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Epochs of Ancient History 

EDITED BY 

Rev. sir G. W. COX, Bart. M.A. and C. SANKEY, M.A. 


ROMAN HTSTORY—The EARLY EMPIRE 


W. W. CAPES, M.A. 







EPOCHS OF ANCIENT HISTORY 


ROMAN HISTORY 

THE EARLY EMPIRE 

FROM THE ASSASSINATION OF JULIUS CyESAR 
TO THAT OF DOMITIAN 

BY 

W. W. CAPES, M.A. 

LATE FELLOW AND TUTOR OF QUEEn’s COLLEGE, AND 
READER IN ANCIENT HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD 


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CONTENTS. 


INTRODUCTORY CHAFIER. 

Rapid survey of the history of Rome from the death of Julius 
Ceesar to the battle of Actium paqb i 


CHAPTER I. 

AUGUSTUS: B.C. 3I—A.D. 14. 

The change in Octavianus after he gained absolute povrer, not a 
mere change of policy, but of temper and demeanour — The 
change in the forms of the constitution — The proposal to resign 
— He avoids the title of king, or of dictator — Had already taken 
the name of Caesar — Is styled Augustus — Takes the old repub- 
lican titles — The old offices of the executive — New offices created 
—The Senate — Privy Council— The government of the provinces 
— Senatorial provinces — Imperial provinces — General character 
of the new regime — The homely manners of Augustus — Liberal 
outlay for public objects — Ready acquiescence in these changes 
—The chief ministers of Augustus — Agrippa — His energy, self- 
sacrifice — Public works — Marries Marcella — Retires to Lesbos — 
Marries Julia — Dies — Maecenas — His diplomatic skill — ^The chief 
adviser of Augustus — Influenced the tone of Roman circles 
through the poets — His domestic trials — Livia — Sources of her 
influence over Augustus, and its nature — Suspicion of her smister 
dealings to secure the succession of Tiberius — Treatment of 



vl Contents. 

Agrippa Postumus — Story of Livia poisoning Augustus-— Julia— • 
Her betrothals and marriages — Extravagance and profligacy at 
last made known to her father — Her banishment and misery — 
Disasters in Gennany — Defeat of Lollius — Loss of Varus with 
three legions — Panic at Rome, and grief of Emperor — Augustus 
grew morose, and resented criticism — Leges majestaiis enforced 
against authors — Ovid — Banished to Tomi — Augustus at last 
less popular at Rome than in the provinces — Died at Nola — His 
survey of the Roman world, and summary of official statistics, 
and advice to his successors — The Monumentum Ancyranum — 
Augustus deified — Explanations : i. Polytheism less scrupulous ; 
2. Eastern peoples had defied their kings ; 3. The rationalising 
tendency; 4. The Italian worship of the Lares especially fostered 
by Augustus — Augustales page 6 


CHAPTER IL 

TIBERIUS: A.D. I4-37 

rhe early life of Tiberius — Little liked by Augustus — His retirement 
to Rhodes — He wished to return to Rome, but was not allowed 
— His danger and suspense — Livia procures his recall and adop- 
tion by Augustus — He was usually away from Rome with the 
army — Recalled to the death-bed of Augustus — Precautions of 
Livia — Claim to succeed based on adoption and tribunicia po* 
testas — Consent of the legions all-important — They were in 
mutiny — Caution of Tiberius, and ambiguous language — He 
shrank from titles of honour and from flattery — Referred all busi- 
ness to the Senate, but neglected the popular assemblies and the 
amusements of tl>e peoi)l(' — Seemed anxious to govern well — 
The great influence of Livia, now called Augusta — Her politic 
patronage of art — Tiberius showed jealousy of the honour paid 
to Augusta — Fear of Germanicus, who was recalled from Ger- 
many and sent on a mission to the East — The appointment of 
Cn. Piso to be governor of Syria — His offensive conduct to 
Germanicus, who believed that he tvas poisoned by Piso — Grief 
at Rome when the death of Germanicus was known — Popular 
suspicions — The people disliked Tiberius from the first — Reasons 
— llie 'delatores* of the Empire now first appeared — Their influ- 



Contents. 


Vll 


ancc under Tiberias, and increase in numbers — The character 
of Sejanus — His rise in power and favour — He schemed to re- 
venge himself on Drusus for the insult of a blow — Seduced 
Livilla, and poisoned Drusus, widened the breach between Ti- 
berius and Agrippina, and urged Tiberius to leave Rome — 
Tiberius retired to Capreae — The death of Augusta, followed by 
the fall of Agrippina and her children — The fate of Asinius 
Gallus — The great power of Sejanus at Rome, his haughtiness — 
Suspicions of Tiberius at length aroused — His dissimulation — 
The scene in the Senate-house, where the Emperor's letter is 
read, and Sejanus is dragged off to death — Cruelty of Tiberius 
— The trials and bloodshed at Caprese — flis death — The pleas 
of later critics in favour of a new estimate of the character of 
Tiberius — The testimony of Valerius Maximus and Velleius 
Paterculus — The marks of bias and exaggeration in the common 
story — The assumptions as to the memoirs of Agrippina, and 
the guilt of the victims of Tiberius — Ancient writers have formed 
too harsh an opinion of his motives in some cases, and reported 
scandalous gossip too lightly . . • • . PAGE 4a 


CHAPTER III. 

CALIGULA: A.D. 37-4I. 

The general joy at the death of Tiberius, and at the succession of 
Caius, named Caligula — The claims of the young grandchild of 
Tiberius were ignored — The general gladness — The Emperor's 
popularity and sense of power turned his head — He claimed 
divine honours —Could bear no rival greatness, as in the case of 
Seneca and Domitius Afer — Was jealous even of the dead — 
Thought himself raised above moral laws, and indulged in wild 
caprices — His devices to refill his exhausted coffers — Resorted to 
confiscation — Morbid ferocity — The campaign in Grcrmany — 
Eudlcrous r^ose — His wild dreams of massacre . , « 71 



VIU 


Contents. 


CHAPTER IV. 
nLAUDius: A.D. 4X-54- 

The hesitation of the Senate after the murder of Caius — The soldiers 
meantime saluted Claudius Emperor—In early life he Lad been 
weak in mind and body — He had sorry treatment from Tiberius 
and Caius, and indulged in coarse habits, but he had literary 
tastes- As Emperor he was ruled by wives and freedmen — The 
domestic position of the freedmen of Rome, and in the imperial 
household — Their ambition and greed and opportunities of gain- 
ing wealth — Pallas — Narcissus — Polybius — Callistus — Felix — 
Posides — Claudius kept in good humour by his freedmen — His 
love for judicial work, and care for provisioning Rome — Want of 
dignity in his proclamations — A campaign and victory arranged 
for him — Scandalous traffic of the freedmen — They confiscate 
the property of the rich by working on their master's fears — His 
wives — Messalina — Her unbounded wantonness and cruelty — At 
last she causes public scandal by marrying Silius — Narcissus tells 
Claudius, and procures her death — Debate among the freedmen 
as to the choice of a new wife — ^Agrippina, his niece, carried off 
the prize, and showed at once her intention to rule supreme — 
Had Octavia betrothed to her son, and the trusted servants of 
Britannicus removed — Afraid of Narcissus and delay, she had 
Claudius poisoned— The satire of Seneca on the deification of 
Claudius page 81 


CHAPTER V. 


NERO : A.D. 54-68. 

The early life of Nero — Saluted as Emperor by the soldiers — His 
mother, Agrippina, tried at first to govern, but Burrhus and Seneca 
took her place and ruled in his name — He showed a passion 
for the fine arts and for low dissipation — His impatience of his 
mother’s restraint — Treatment of Britannicus and Octavia — The 
attempts to poison Agrippina failed — The dark scheme to drown 
her in the Bay of Naples — Its failure followed by her murder— 
Burrhus and Seneca defended the deed — Nero gave himself up 



Contents. 


IX 


to his pleasures, drove freeborn Romans on the stage, and at 
last appeared on it himself — Nero had a real love of art, but the 
art vras bad — Nero’s extravagant display, especially in building 
— The great fire of Rome — The strange rumours of his conduct 
and suspicions — He had the ‘Golden House’ built for him — 
— Its most privileged inmates — To turn suspicion from himself 
Nero made the Christians his victims and his scapegoats — His 
victims generally of a higher rank — His aunt — Ilis wife Octavia 
— Poppaea — Burrhus — Seneca spared for a time — Philosophers 
were looked on with distrust — Stoicism especially distasteful to 
the prince, but spread rapidly through society — The character 
and fate of Thrasea Paetus, of Seneca, and of Corbulo — Other 
victims — Lucan fell into disgrace at court — Took part in a con- 
spiracy and lost both life and honour — Petroniiis Arbiter excited 
the jealousy of Tigellinus, and died with frivolous indifference — 
The rising in Britain and great loss of hfe and other disasters of 
the time — llie revolt of Vindex in Gaul, taken up by Galba 
after the death of Vindex — Nero’s indifference at first, followed 
by despair — He fled to a freedman’s house and hid himself, then 
at last found nerve to kill himself — Strange affection for his 
memory shown by some of the populace — Pretenders appeared 
in his name page 99 


CHAPTER VI. 

GALBA : A.D. 68-69. 

rhe career of Galba before his accession — As governor of Spain he 
had only a small force — Rival pretenders rose and fell, and 
Galba made his way to Rome without a struggle, but preceded 
by ugly rumours — Discontent of the marines, praetorians, legion- 
aries, and city populace, of Nero’s servants and favourites, and 
of the Senate — The favourites of Galba shamelessly abuse their 
power — Galba adopted Piso as his colleague, but Otho imrigued 
with the soldiers of the giard, and was saluted Emperor — Galba 
set out for the camp, but while on his way was set upon and 
killed, and Piso, who had fled to sanctuary, was killed at the 
temple steps .12a 



X 


Contents, 


CHAPTER VII. 

OTHO : A.D. 69. 

Otbo's early career of dissipation — Of better repute in provincial 
rule — Returned to Rome with Galba and displaced him— He 
gained the soldiers’ loyalty and love — But the armies of the 
Rhine had chosen Vitellius, and were on the march to Rome — 
After fruitless overtures of peace, Otho marched to meet them — 
His generals urged delay, but he would not wait — His army 
was routed on the battle-field of Bedriacum, and he died by his 
own hand page 128 


CHAPTER VIII. 
vitellius: a.d. 69. 


l‘he antecedents of Vitellius — Sent by Galba to command the 
army on the Rhine — Glutton and spendthrift thon^h he was 
he won the affection of the soldiers — Valens and Caecina, being 
disaffected to Galba, stir the army and put Vitellius forward ; he 
is proclaimed Emperor — The march into Italy and victory of 
Bedriacum — ^The entry into Rome of the soldiers of the Rhine 
with Vitellius — His favourites governed while he feasted — But 
in the East Vespasian was soon in arms — The treachery of 
Bassus and Caecina, and second battle of Bedriacum — Sad fate 
of Cremona — Vitellius tried to abdicate but was prevented by 
the soldiers, who stormed the Capitol — In the fray the temple of 
Jupiter was burnt — Antonius entered Rome and slaughtered 
the Vitellians — Vitellius was dragged from his hiding-place and 
slain 132 


CHAPTER IX. 

VESPASIAN; A.D. 69-79. 

The humble origin and chequered career of Vespasian — He is sent 
to command in Judaea — I le showed his skill and won the soldiers’ 
trust — Titus and Mucianus pressed him to make himself Em- 
peror, and he consented with reluctance — The rebellion in Gaul 
and Germany : Its causes early successes, and speedy failure— 



Contents, 


XI 


Vespasian restored order at Rome — The causes of the Insurrec- 
tion in Judaea, and earlier relations of the Jews to Rome — A 
hasty rising at Jerusalem spread widely till Vespasian was sent to 
command the army — The siege of Jerusalem was left to Titus 
to finish — The obstinate defence and utter destruction of the 
city and temple — The triumph after the Jewish war as described 
by Josephus — The economy and homely tastes of Vespasian— 
He needed and raised a large revenue, and imposed new tolls 
and taxes — But the money was well used for public objects — He 
was free from jealousy and suspicion, yet was persuaded to put 
to death Helvidius Priscus, and also J. Sabinus, in spite of the 
story of his wife’s faithful love — Vespasian worked hard and died 
in harness— The characteristic jest at his funeral . PAGE 141 


CHAPTER X. 

TITUS: A.D. 79-81. 

The bright prospects of the early life of Titus — His ambitious hopes 
and intrigues in Judaea — Skill in the siege and cruelty to the 
prisoners — He shared the imperial power with his father, and 
Studied magnificence of outward show’ — Money was spent largely 
on great works — His relations with Berenice were so unpopular 
that he had to yield — Sinister rumours about him — The change 
after his father’s death — His courtesy and liberality made him 
loved, and universally lamented — The disasters of the time — The 
eruption Vesuvius — The account of the yoimger Pliny — The 

scene at Pompeii, and various forms of death and ruin — The 
objects since collected 155 


CHAPTER XI. 

DOMITIAN : A.D. 81-96. 

Domitian's early life and danger from the soldiers — Sudden change 
turned his head— He was kept in strict tutelage by Vespasian— 
He ill requited the tenderness of Titus— His power of self- 
restraint as Emperor and wish to rule well — He discouraged 
informers and legacies to himself— The probable causes of the 
marked change of temper — His complete failure as a general— 



Contaits, 


xii 

Conspiracy against him — Want of money — His numerous 
victims — The Philosophers — Apollonius of Tyana — The gene- 
rals — Julius Agricola — Literar}' men — Martial — Statius — 
j uvenol — ^Tacitus — Domitian assassinated by his wife and freed- 
men page 164 


CHAPTER XII. 

THE POSITION OF THE EMPEROR. 

The Emperor virtually the source of law : he interprets the law, 
and enforces it, as head of the executive — His powers unique in 
kind, w ithout check or balance — There was no escape from the 
Emperor's power, nor for him — His power was based on 
military force, but his policy was coiiuuojily not warlike— Little 
police force needed 173 


CHAPTER XIII. 

THE RIGHTS OF ROMAN CITIZENSHIP 

The citizens of Rome a mixed race — Their rights and privileges— 
jus suft'ragii— Jus honorura — Right of appeal — Immunity from 
personal violence— J us exilii — Freedom of speech and writing— 
Religious liberty — Right of assembly — Right to food . . 176 


CHAPTER XIV 
LIFE IN THE PROVINCES. 

Cjreal variety of political status in the provincial towns, and large 
amount of self-rule — Scanty reference in literatm^ to the life of 
the provincial towns — Fuller details in the inscriptions — The 
executive officials, duumviri juri dicundo, sediles, quaestors, 
quinquenuales — The town council or ordo decurionum — Popular 
assemblies — Offices were burdensome rather than lucrative — 
Fhiblic spirit and munificence — The attractions of Roman culture 
— Tlie liberal outlay of the rich lightened the burdens of local 
government — General well-being — Evidences of improvement 
and of prosperity— But no guarantees of permanence . 181 



Contents. 


xiii 


CHAPTER XV. 

THE STATE OF TRADE. 

I ho early contempt for industrial art at Rome — The contempt ex- 
tended to professions and the fine arts — Disdain of retail trade 
did not extend to commerce on a large scale — Growth of a class 
of merchant capitalists who enrich themselves without benefit to 
the world — What the Empire did for trade — It secured the roads 
and seas — Confined war to the frontiers — Removed a variety of 
hindrances — Diminished indirectly the supply of slave labour — 
Lessened the competition of war and politics — The Emperors 
favoured the higher branches of industrial art — Influence of 
Extern sentiment — The higher status given to industrial classes 
through magistri viconim — A vast system of free trade flourished 
— Balance of trade against Italy .... page 193 


CHAPTER XVI. 

THE GROWING DEPOPULATION OF ITALY AND GREECE. 

The ominous signs of depopulation — Strabo’s account of Greece — 
Polybius notices the diminishing military force of Italy— Re- 
marks of Livy — Pliny — Dion Cassius — Attempts of Augustus to 
meet the evil — The causes of decline : i. Wsu* ; 2. Changes 
from pciasant proprietors to large estates with slave labour ; 
3. Slavery was wasteful of life ; 4. Attraction of tow n life 
and discouragement to industry ; 5. Influence of vice and 
profligacy. aoo 


CHAPTER XVil. 

THE FRONTIERS AND THE AKMV. 

The frontiers well defined — Dependent kingdoms and diplomatic 
relations — The pacific policy of the Empire — The standing 
army of Augustus, and the stations of the legions and of 
the fleets — The legions recruited from the distant provinces 



XIV 


Contents. 


were loyal and steadfast, and attached by many ties to theh 
camps — The moral qualities fostered in the camps by work and 
discipline — ^Two examples of the break-down of discipline — The 
pay and pensions of the soldiers and ' missio honesta ’ page an6 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE MORAL STANDARD OF THE AGE. 

The natural tendency to l>elieve that there was a moral decline in 
the first century of the Empire : i. But satire is not fair evi- 
dence ; 2. Juvenal was too vehement to be fair; 3. Literature 
deals with the life of Rome ; 4. Complaints about luxury need to 
be carefully weighed ; 5. Philosophy became a great moral power 
— the case of Seneca ; 6. The change of tone and thought on 
the subject of slavery ; 7. The change in the estimate of wo- 
men’s character ; 8. The evidence of a higher tone in Pliny’s 
letters <13 


CHAPTER XIX. 

THE REVIVAL OF RELIGIOUS SENTIMENT 

Religion seemed to be losing its hold on the Romans of education — 
The policy of Augustus to strengthen the old religion — Reasons 
for believing that the reaction left endiuing traces : i. The 
legends might be given up without loss of religious faith ; 2. 
The tone of philosophy was earnest and devout ; 3. The intro- 
duction of new creeds and rites ; 4. The change in the literary 
tone ; 5. Monumental evidence — Paganism died hard . 222 


INDEX 


. «7 



The Chief Original Authorities for the History oj 
the First Century. 


/Ippian, ' Civil Wars ' ; for the period of the civil struggle. 

Dion Cassrus, * Roman History.’ 

Inscriptionum Latinarum Corpus : Auctoritate Acad. Berol. ed. 
Josephus; for the Jewish war. 

‘ Monumentum Ancyranum v. Res gestae divi Augustine ed 
Th. Mommsen. 

Pliny, * Letters ’ : for the close of the period. 

Plutarch, * Lives of Julius Caesar, Cicero, Antonius, M. Brutus 
Galba, Otho.* 

Seneca, in the historical illustrations of his moral treatise.s. 
Suetonius, ' Lives of the Caesars.’ 

Tacitus, ‘Annals and Histories.’ 

Velleius Paterculus, for the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. 

Of the poets : Horace, j uvenal, and Martial especially illustrate the 
history of the period. 



Genealogical Tables (continued) 





Ltnupruats . Green, ^ Co.. London,. Vc^l^/rlt.Soinhcff St* 




ROMAN HISTORY 


THE EARLIER EMPIRE 


INTRODUCTION. 

The genius and statesmanship of Julius Caesar secured 
only a few years of absolute power, and had not time 
enough to shape the forms of empire, or carry . 
f^ut far-reaching plans. When he fell under vey'of the 
the daggers of his murderers, he left no sys- KonSrom 
tern of established rule, and no successor to 
replace him. The Commonwealth had been tothebatS:^ 
discredited by years of impotence ; anarchy Actmm. 
at home, misgovernment abroad had shown the break- 
down of the ancient institutions of the state, and the frail 
plant of liberty needed more to bring it back to healthy 
life than to be watered with the blood of Caesar. But 
when the young Octavius left his books at Apollonia, and 
came to Rome to claim his rights, few could have had 
serious fears of his ambition, or could have foreseen in 
him the man who was to close the drama of the great 
Republic and bring the Empire on the stage. For he 
had played no part as yet in public life, was known to 
be of feeble health, had given no proof of genius or ol 
self-reliant courage. Sent on before to the advanced 

B 



The Earlier Empire, 


B.C. 44-31 


% 

camp in Epirus, to be ready for campaigns in the far 
East, he was startled from his round of rhetoric and drill 
by the news of his great uncle’s murder. He crossed the 
sea without delay ; and hearing on his way 
that his kinsman’s will had named him heir, 
he took at once the name, of Caesar Octavianus, and 
hurried on to claim his heritage at Rome. His mother 
told him of her fears, his stepfather urged the need of 
caution, and pointed to the dangers in his way ; but he 
persisted, though almost alone, and though he saw the 
need to be resolute and wary. The daggers that had been 
sharpened against Julius might be drawn upon himself, if 
he spoke too openly of vengeance, or appealed at once to 
the soldiers and the people. The name that he had just 
assumed had an ominous sound in the ears of Senate 
and of nobles ; and M. Antonius, the old confidant 
and partisan of Caesar, by right of his authority as con- 
sul, had taken the reins of power into his hands, had 
gained possession of the treasures and the papers of the 
fallen ruler, and was in no mood to share them with a 
rival claimant. The conduct of Octavianus, though bold, 
was very politic and far-sighted. Resolved at any cost to 
show respect for the last wishes of his kinsman, he drew 
largely on the means of his family or friends to pay the 
legacies bequeathed by Caesar to every citizen of Rome, 
and defrayed even the expenses of the public shows that 
had been promised. He paid his court with tact to the 
members of the Senate, and talked of amnesty and peace ; 
put on a show of winning deference for the leaders of the 
moderate party, and for Cicero above all, and fed their 
hopes, that they might find in his growing popularity a 
harmless counterpoise to the violent ambition of Antonius. 
Even when forced at last to arm in self-defence, and to 
levy troops among the veterans of Caesar, he courted the 
old statesman still ; he played upon his vanity, and called 



B.c. 44-31* 


Introductio7t, 


3 


him father. Affecting to draw his sword only in defence 
of the constitution and the Senate, he offered to serve 
with his own legions under the new consuls against 
Antonius, the common enemy of all loyal citizens. But he 
clearly read the jealous suspicions of the nobles, and had 
no mind to be used awhile and then thrown aside like 
a dishonoured tool. So, after the successes 
won at Mutina, which cost the lives of both 
the consuls, he flung away the mask that he had worn, 
came to terms of union with Antonius and with Lepidus, 
the governor of Gaul, and marched with his soldiers 
straight to Rome to wrest the consulship from the 
reluctant Senate. Then the era of Proscriptions opened, 
for the confederates agreed to cement their league with 
blood. Each marked his victims’ names upon the fatal 
list, and each consented to give up adherents of his own 
to the greed or hatred of his colleagues. Meanwhile the 
Senatorian party, crushed at Rome, was gathering fresh 
strength beyond the seas. Brutus in Macedonia, Cassius 
in Syria, the foremost of the murderers of Cassar, had 
turned the provinces which they governed into one vast 
recruiting-ground for a last decisive struggle. When all 
was ready they combined their forces and offered battle 
to the enemies who had crossed over to attack them. 
Once more came the crash of mighty armies 
met again in civil war, and the battle-fields 
of Philippi saw the fall of the last of the great republicans 
of Rome. 

The world lay prostrate at the conquerors’ feet ; it 
remained only to divide the spoil. Antonius stayed 
behind to organise and rule the East. The Province of 
Africa was thought enough to content the absent Lepidus, 
while Italy and all the West fell to the portion of Octa- 
vianus. 

But still as the young schemer mounted higher the 



4 


R c. 44 - 3 *. 


The Earlier Empire. 

dangers seenued to thicken in his path, to test his hardi- 
hood and patient statecraft. He returned to Italy to find 
an exhausted treasury and half-ruined people ; veterans 
clamouring for their pay and settling with fierce eager- 
ness upon the promised lands ; peasants ousted from 
their hom^s taking to brigandage from sheer despair ; 
the city populace in no loyal mood to a master who had 
little to bestow ; while the wife and brother of his rival 
fanned the smouldering discontent, and vexed him sorely 
with intrigues, then flew to arms at last, and when beaten 
stood sullenly at bay within the beleaguered fortress of 
Perusia. The sea meanwhile was at the 
mercy of the bold Sextus Pompeius, who 
scoured the coasts of Italy with galleys manned by 
motley crews of republicans who had fought under his 
father’s lead, of pirates to whom that father^s name had 
been once a sound of terror, of ruined victims of the 
late proscriptions, of slaves and runaways of every class. 
The corn-ships dared not venture near the blockaded 
ports, and prices mounted to famine height, till the 
starving population rose in fierce mutiny against their 
ruler ; while Antonius was on his way with a great fleet to 
call him to account for the treatment of his brother, who 
had hardly escaped with life from the horrors of the 
siege. But Italy was sick of civil war. The soldiers, 
tired of constant bloodshed, made their leaders sheath 
their swords and join in league and amity, in pledge of 
which Antonius took to wife Octavia, the sister of his 
rival, while Sextus bargained as the price of peace to 
keep his hold upon the islands and the sea, and Lepi- 
dus, displaced already from his office of command, held 
only in his feeble grasp the dignity and functions of High 
Pontiff. 

For six more years of divided power Octavianus 
schemed and toiled and waited. He secured his hold 
on Italy, calmed the elements of disorder in its midst, 



n.c. 44-31. 


Introduction. 


5 

refilled the treasury and stocked the granaries, till he felt 
himself strong enough to defy Sextus on the seas and crush 
the bold buccaneer after many a hard-fought struggle. 
At last, but not till all was safe elsewhere, came the crisis 
of the duel with Antonius. Eastern luxury had done its 
work upon his passionate nature. Slothful self-indulgence, 
broken only by fitful moods of fiery energy, clouded his 
reason and unnerved his manhood. The Egyptian Cleo- 
patra had lured him with her blandishments and wound 
her snares around his heart, till Rome heard with indig- 
nation of the wrongs of the forsaken wife and of the 
orgies of the wanton pair. Nay, more, they heard that 
not content with parodying the names and attributes ol 
foreign gods, they claimed the right to change the seat ol 
empire and make Alexandria the new capital of the 
Roman world. Was the dignity of a chaste matron, it 
was asked, to be the sport of the minions of an Eastern 
court ? Should Octavianus tamely wait to see the national 
honour further outraged, and the monstrous forms of un- 
couth worships instal themselves within the Seven Hills 
and drive the old deities from their venerable shrines ? 
The personal quarrel was transformed into a war of creeds 
and races. In place of the horrors of a civil struggle 
men thought only of the motley aggregate of foreign 
peoples arrayed at Actium in the extravagance of barbaric 
pomp against the discipline and valour of the West. 

In the actual conflict Antonius displayed neither a 
generals skill nor a soldier’s courage. He fought, seem- 
ingly, to cover a retreat that had been planned 
before. Cleopatra’s galleys gave the signal ‘ ' 
for the flight, and the leader of what was now a hopeless 
cause hastened after her to Egypt, where he found dis- 
content and treachery spread around him. After a few 
months spent in moody despair or riotous excesses he 
died by his own hand, to be soon followed by his para- 
mour to his dishonoured grave. 



5 


The Earlier Empire, 


KC, St- 


CHAPTER I. 

AUGUSTUS: B.C. 3I— A.D. 1 4. 

The victory of Actium had made Octavianus the undis- 
puted master of the Roman world. One by one rivals 
^ , and obstacles had been swept away, and the 

The remark- . . , , ^ ’ 

able change patient schcmer had now mounted to the top- 

anus^after he ^^ost I'ound of the ladder of ambition. Dur- 
eained abso- in? the troublous years of the lon<r strucrele for 

lute power vr j i ^ / 

power his public life had been one course of 
selfish aims, unscrupulous acts, and makeshift policy ; he 
had yet to prove that there was anything of real and abid- 
ing greatness in his schemes to raise him from the ranks 
of mere political adventurers. But from this time we may 
trace a seeming change of character, which is the more 
remarkable because it is so hard to parallel. 

It was no change of measures only, such as often 
comes with new conditions, such as that 

not a mere ^ ^ 

chamgeof which made the founder of the dynasty 
reverse much of the policy of earlier years. 
For, spendthrift and prodigal as Julius had been be- 
fore, he used his power to curtail extravagance, sent police 
agents to the markets, and even to the houses of the 
wealthy, to put down luxury by force ; the leader of the 
popular party forbade the growth of guilds and social 
clubs like those which had often carried the elections in 
his favour ; the favourite of the populace was anxious to 
check the spread of pauperism by sterner measures ; the 
revolutionary general whose tent had been the refuge of 
the men of tarnished name and ruined fortunes baffled 
all their hopes of plunder, by passing stringent measures 
to restore credit and to curb official greed. Octavianus 
also in like case resorted to like policy. One of his first 



— A,D. 14 . Augustus. 7 

cares was to repeal the unconstitutional acts of his earlici 
life, and so to close the period of revolution. He took 
steps without delay to restore order and to strengthen 
the moral safeguards which years of anarchy and civil 
war had almost ruined. To this end he passed laws like 
those of Julius, and, unlike his kinsman, was enabled by 
his long tenure of power to carry out a conservative 
reform in morals and religion which left some enduring 
traces. 

But the change in character lay deeper far than this. 
He had shown while the struggle lasted a cruelty without 
excuse. Though possibly reluctant at the first of tem 
to engage in the proscriptions, he is said to per and 
have acted in them more relentlessly than 
either of his colleagues ; he had his prisoners of war 
butchered in cold blood, mocked at their prayers for 
decent burial, and calmly watched their dying agonies. 

That he was hard and pitiless beyond the spirit of his 
times is implied in many stories of the day, and among 
others we read that when the captives of Philippi passed 
in bonds before their conquerors they saluted Antonius 
with marked respect, but vented their deepest curses on 
Octavianus to his face. 

But after Actium he showed what was for that age an 
unusual clemency. He spared his open enemies, he 
hunted out no victims, and professed even to bum the 
secret papers of his rival which might have compromised 
his partisans at Rome. The same gentler spirit breathes 
through the whole of his long period of rule. His jealous 
intolerance had led him once to drive a consul elect to 
suicide for a bitter word, and to fine or banish citizens ol 
Nursia for honouring with a monument their de^.d who 
had fallen, as they wrote, in defence of freedom on the 
field of Mutina. But he was ready now to show respect 
to the memory of Pompeius, to let historians write the 



8 The Earlier Empire, B.a 31 - 

praises of the great republicans of Rome, to congratulate 
the men of Mediolanum (Milan) for prizing the busts of 
Brutus, to listen calmly to the gibes vented on himself in 
popular satires or in dead men^s wills, to let even lam- 
poons be scattered in the Senate House, and make no 
eifortto hunt out the authors. His suspicious fears had 
made him once give orders for the instant execution of a 
curious bystander who had pressed in too eagerly to hear 
him speak in public, and put even to the torture a praetor 
who came to greet him, and whose hidden note-book was 
mistaken for a dagger ; but in later life he walked without 
an escort through the streets, went to and fro to join the 
social gatherings of his friends, and showed no fear of 
an assassin’s knife. The cheerful cordiality and homely 
courtesies of his maturer age were a marked contrast to 
the cold, ungenial reserve of earlier days ; and those who 
find his real character hard to read may see perhaps a 
fitting symbol of it in the figure of the Sphinx which he 
wore upon his signet-ring. 

But this change of manner could not be an easy thing, 
and was probably not soon effected. There are signs 
Tiie change which seem to show that constant watchful- 

eafiiy^^ ness and self-restraint were needed to curb 

made. his natural temper, and that personal in- 

iluences were at work to help him. Though he was 

patient and merciful in most cases that were brought 

before him when on the seat of judgment, it is said that 

Maecenas, who was standing by, marked on one occasion 

the old blood-thirsty instinct reappear, and flung to him 

a hasty note with the words, ‘Rise, Hangman!’ written on 

Called for it. Another time, when stung by what was 

watchfulness ottered in the Senate, he hurried out abruptly, 
and self- ,1 r ^ r \ 

restraint. and excused himself afterwards for want of 
courtesy by saying that he feared his anger would slip 
from his control. We are told that with others commonly, 



14. Augiistiis, 9 

and even with Livia, his wife, he would not always trust 
himself to speak on subjects of grave moment without 
writing down the notes of what he had to say In the 
gloom that settled on him in old age, when family losses 
and dishonour, coupled with national disasters, weighed 
upon his mind, the hard, unlovely features of his character, 
long hidden out of sight, seemed to come to light once 
more as the force of self-control was weakened by the 
laws of natural decay. Yet even with such reserves his 
history presents a spectacle almost unexampled of the 
force of will in moulding and tempering an ungenial 
nature, and of the chastening influence of sovereign rule. 
The signal victory just won, the honours voted by the 
servile Senate, the acclamations of the people, the 
license of unbounded power, might well have turned 
his head, as they proved fatal to the temper of many a 
later emperor ; but the dagger of Brutus haunted his 
memory and warned him to beware of outraging Roman 
feeling. 

But, far beyond its effect upon his personal bearing, 
we may trace the influence of these warning memories 
on the work which lay before him, of giving The change 
shape and system to the future goveiiiment of 
Rome. Power and repute had passed away stitution. 
from the old forms of the Republic. The whole world 
lay at the feet of the master of many legions; it remained 
only to define the constitutional forms in which the new 
forces were to work. But to do this was no easy task. 
The perplexities of his position, the fears and hopes that 
crossed his mind, are thrown into dramatic form by the 
historian Dion Cassius, who brings a scene before our 
fancy in which Octavianus listens to the I'he debate 
conflicting counsels of his two great advisers 
Agrippa and Maecenas. The former is sup- Cassius, 
posed to paint in sombre colouis the difficulties of a 



10 


B.C. 31- 


The Earlier Empire. 

monarch’s lot, to remind him of the warnings of the 
past and the dangers of the future, and strongly to 
urge him to copy the example set by Sulla, and after 
passing needful laws, and strengthening the safeguards 
against anarchy and license, to resign the outward 
show of power and come down from the dizzy pinnacle 
of greatness. Maecenas, on the other hand, counsels 
absolute rule, though masked by constitutional dis- 
guises, and describes at great length a system of cen- 
tralised government, in sketching which the historian 
drew mainly from the experience of his own later times, 
and with slight regard for strict historic truth, attributed 
to the inventive genius of Maecenas a full-grown system 
of political machinery which it took some centuries of 
imperialism to develop. But though we must regard the 
narrative in question more as the writer’s own political 
theorising than as a sketch of matter of fact, yet there is 
little doubt that schemes of resignation were at some 
time discussed by the Emperor and by his circle of ad- 
visers. It is even possible, as the same writer tells us, 
The proposal before the Senators at this time 

to resign. some proposul to leave the helm of state and 
let them guide it as of old. We are told that they were 
thrown into confusion by his words, and that, mistrust- 
ing his sincerity, or fearing the return of anarchy and 
the scramble for power that would soon ensue, they all 
implored him to withdraw his words and take back the 
power which he had resigned. The scene, if ever really 
acted, was but an idle comedy, and the offer could scarcely 
have been seriously meant, though there may have been 
some passing thought of it even at this time and still 
more at a later period, when he had long been sated with 
power and burdened with the cares of office. It is more 
probable that he was content with some faint show of 
resistance, when the Senate heaped their honours on 



— A.D. 14. Augusts. II 

his head, as afterwards when, more than once, after a ten 
years’ interval, they solemnly renewed the tenure of his 
power. 

But we cannot doubt his sincerity in one respect — in 
his wish to avoid the kingly title and all the odious 
associations of the name. It had been from sincerely 
early times offensive to Roman ears ; it had 
grown far more so as they heard more of the title of King 
wanton lust and cmelty and haughtiness of Eastern mo- 
narchs, and they scorned to be degraded themselves to the 
level of their cringing subjects. The charge of aspiring to 
be king had often been an ominous cry in party struggles, 
and had proved fatal to more than one great leader; 
it had been truly said perhaps of Caesar, and had largely 
helped to ruin him, and his successor was too wary to 
be dazzled by the bauble of a name. He shrank also 
from another title, truly Roman in its character, but 
odious since the days of Sulla ; and though 
the populace of Rome, when panicstruck by tator. 
pestilence and famine, clamoured to have him made 
dictator, and threatened to burn the Senate as it sat in 
council if their will was not obeyed, yet nothing would 
induce him to bear the hateful name. But the name 
of Caesar he had taken long ago, after his Had alre.idy 
illustrious uncle’s death, and this became 
the title first of the dynasty and then of the Caesar, 
imperial office. Besides this he allowed himself to be 
styled Augustus, a name which roused no jealousy and 
outraged no Roman sentiment, yet vaguely implied some 
dignity and reverence from its long associa- 
lion with the objects of religion. As such he Augustus, 
preferred it to the suggested name of Romulus, and 
allowed one of the months to be so called after him, 
as the preceding one of Julius had been named after 
his kinsman. With this exception he assumed no new 



B.C. SI-- 


The Earlief' Empire. 

symbol of monarchic power, but was satisfied with the 
old official titles, which, though charged with memories 
Takes the Republic, yet singly correspondca to 

U^rSties some side or fragment of absolute authority. 

The first of these was Imperator, which served 
imperator, connect him with the army. The imperium 
which the name expressed, had stood in earlier days for 
the higher functions, more especially for the power of 
the sword, which belonged to civil as well as military 
authority. But, gradually curtailed in other cases by the 
jealousy of the republic, it had kept its full meaning only 
in the camp ; the imperator was the general in command, 
or, in a still more special case, he was the victorious 
leader whose soldiers had saluted him upon the field of 
battle. Julius, whose veterans had often greeted him 
with this title in many a hard-fought campaign, chose 
it seemingly as a fitting symbol of the new rdgime^ as a 
frank avowal of its military basis, and in this sense it 
was found convenient by his successors. It implied 
absolute authority, such as the general has over his 
soldiers, and the concentration in a single chief of 
the widespread powers entrusted to subordinate com- 
manders; it suggested little of the old forms of consti- 
tutional election, but appealed rather to the memory of 
the army’s loyal acclamations, and gave a seeming claim 
to their entire obedience. 

The title of the tribunician power connected the 
monarch with the interests of the lower orders. In the 
Tribunicia early days of privilege, when Rome was 
Potestas. parted into rival classes, the tribunes had 

been the champions of the commons. Sacrosanct or 
inviolate themselves, and armed with power to shield the 
weak from the license of magistrate or noble, they 
gradually assumed the right to put a veto or check on all 
public business in Rome. In the party struggles of the 
last century of the republic they had abused their consli- 



— A.D. 14. Augustus. 13 

tutional powers to destroy the influence of the Senate 
and organize the popular movement against the narrow 
oligarchy of the ruling classes. Such authority was too 
important to be overlooked or intrusted in its fulness 
into other hands. The Emperor did not, indeed, assume 
the tribunate, but was vested with the tribunician power 
which overshadowed the annual holders of the office. It 
made his person sacred, not in the city only or in dis- 
charge of official acts, as in their case, but at all times 
and through the whole breadth of the empire. It gave 
him the formal right to call the meetings of the Senate, 
and to lay before them such business as he pleased, and 
thus secured the initiative in all concerns of state. Out 
of the old privilege of appeal to the protection of a tri- 
bune came the right of acquittal in judicial functions, 
which made the Emperor a high court of appeal from all 
the lower courts, and out of which seemingly has grown 
the right of pardon vested in the kings of modern 
Europe. The full meaning and extension of the title 
seems not to have been discerned at once, but once 
grasped it was too important to be dropped. By it suc- 
ceeding emperors dated the tenure of their power, as by 
the years of a king’s reign, and the formal act by which 
the title was conferred on the kinsman or the confidant 
who stood nearest to the throne seemed to point him out 
for succession to the imperial rank. 

The familiar name of prince was one of dignity 
rather than of power. The ‘princeps senatus’ in old 
days had been the foremost senator of his 
time, distinguished by weight of character 
and the experience of high rank, early consulted in 
debate, and carrying decisive influence by his vote. No 
one but the Emperor could fill this position safely, and 
he assumed the name henceforth to connect him with the 
Senate, as other titles seemed to bind him to the army 
and the people. 





The Earlier Empire, 


B.C. 31- 


For the post of Supreme Pontiff, Augustus was con- 
tent to wait awhile, until it passed by death from the 
Pohtifex feeble hands of Lepidus. He then claimed 

Maximus. the exclusive tenure of the office, and after 
this time Pontifex Maximus was always added to the 
long list of imperial titles. It put into his hands, as the 
highest functionary of religion, the control of all the 
ritual of the state ; it was a convenient instrument for 
his policy of conservative reform, and associated with his 
name some of the reverence that gathered round the 
domain of spiritual life. Besides these titles to which 
he assumed an exclusive right he also filled occasionally 
and for short periods most of the republican offices of 
higher rank, both in the capital and in the country towns. 

Potestas consular 

Consularis. power, with its august traditions and impo- 
sing ceremonial. The authority of censor lay ready to 
his hands when a moral reform was to be set 
’ on foot, and a return attempted to the severity 
of ancient manners, or when the Senate was to be 
purged of unworthy members and the order of the eqnites 
or knights to be reviewed and its dignity consulted. Be* 
Proconsu- yond the capital the pro* consular power was 

laris vested in him without local limitations, and 

gave him the right to issue his instructions to the com- 
manders of the legions, as the great generals of the repub- 
lic had done before. Finally he deigned often to accept 
offices of local dignity in the smaller towns throughout 
the empire, appointing in each case a deputy to discharge 
the duties of the post. The offices of state at Rome, 
The old meantime, lasted on from the Republic to 
offices of the the Empire, unchanged in name, and with 
executive. seeming change of functions. Consuls, 

Pnetors, Quaestors, Tribunes, and iEldiles rose from the 
same classes as before, and moved for the most part in 



— A.D. 14- Augustus. 15 

the same round of work, though they had lv>st for ever 
their power of initiative and real control. Elected by the 
people formerly, but with much sinister influence of 
bribery and auguries, they were now mainly the nominees 
of Caesar, though the forms of popular election were still 
for a time observed, and though Augustus condescended 
to canvass in person for his friends and to send letters of 
commendation for those whom he wished to have elected. 
The consulship was.entirely reserved for his nominees, but 
passed rapidly from hand to hand, since in order to 
gratify a larger number it was granted at varying intervals 
for a few months only. For though it was in fact a political 
nullity henceforth, and its value lay mainly in the evidence 
of imperial favour or its prospects of provincial office, 
yet the old dignity lasted still, and for centuries the post 
was spoken of by Romans as almost the highest prize of 
their ambition. For lower posts a distinction was observed 
between the places, generally less than half, reserved 
entirely for the Emperor to fill with his candidati Casaris^ 
as they are called in their inscriptions, and those which 
were left for some show of open voting, though influenced, 
it might be, by court favour. 

The peculiar feature of the old Roman executive had 
been its want of centralised action. Each magistrate 
might thwart and check his colleague ; the collision 
between different officials, the power of veto, and the 
absence of supreme authority might bring the political ma- 
chinery to a dead lock. The imperial system swept aside 
these dangers, left each magistrate to the routine of his 
own work, and made him feel his responsibility to the 
central chief. It was part of the policy of Augustus to 
disturb as little as possible the old names and forms of 
the Republic ; to leave their old show and dignity, that 
those who filled them might seem to be not his own 
creatures, but the servants of the state. But besides these 



B.C. 31 — 


The Earlier Empire, 


ne set up a number of new offices, often of more real power 
New offices though of lower rank ; he filled the most im- 
created. portant of them with his confidants, delegating 
to them the functions which most needed his control, and 
in which he could not brook any show of independence, 
and left behind him the rudiments of a centralised 
bureaucracy which his successors gradually enlarged. 
Two terms correspond respectively to two great classes. 

The name prcefecUcs^ the prS/H of modern 
France, stood in earlier days for the deputy 
of any officer of state charged specially to execute some 
definite work. The prsefects of Caesar were his servants, 
named by him and responsible to him, set to discharge 
duties which the old constitution had commonly ignored. 
Praefectus prefect of the city had appeared in 

Urbi, shadowy form under the Republic to repre- 

sent the consul in his absence. Augustus felt the need, 
when called away from Rome, to have some one there 
whom he could trust to watch the jealous nobles and 
control the fickle mob. His trustiest confidants, Maecenas 
and Agrippa, filled the post, and it became a standing 
office, with a growing sphere of competence, overtopping 
the magistracies of earlier date. 

The praefects of the praetorian cohorts first appeared 
when the Senate formally assigned a body-guard to 
Augustus later in his reign. The troops were 
™ ’ named after the picked soldiers who were 

quartered round the tents of the generals of the Repub- 
lic, and when they were concentrated by the city walls 
their chief commanders soon filled a formidable place in 
history, and their loyalty or treachery often decided the fate 
of Rome. Next to these in power and importance came the 
rigiium, praefects of the watch — the new police force 
anuonae. organised by Augustus as a protection against 
the dangers of the night ; and of the corn supplies oi 



-A.D. 14* Augustus, ly 

Rome, which were always an object of especial care on 
the part of the imperial government. And besides these, 
there were many various duties entrusted by the head 
of the state to special delegates, both in the capital and 
through the provinces. The title prociira- p^ocura- 
tor^ which has come down to us in the form tores, 
of ‘ proctor,’ was at first mainly a term of civil law, and 
was used for a financial agent or attorney. The officers 
so called were regarded at the first as stewards of the 
Emperor’s property or managers of his private business. 
They were therefore for some time of humble origin, for 
the Emperor’s household was organised like that of any 
Roman noble. Slaves or freedmen filled the offices of 
trust, wrote his letters, kept his books, managed his 
affairs, and did the work of the treasurers and secretaries 
of state of later days. Kept within bounds by sterner 
masten , they abused the confidence of weak emperors, 
and outraged Roman pride by their wealth, arrogance, 
and ostentation. The agents of the Emperor’s privy purse 
throughout the provinces were called by the same title, 
but were commonly of higher rank and more repute. 

Such in its bare outline was the executive of the im- 
perial government. We have next to see what was the 
position of the Senate. That body had been ^ 
in early times the council summoned to advise 
the king or consul. By the weight and experience of its 
members, and their lifelong tenure of office, it soon 
towered above the shortlived executive, and became the 
chief moving force at Rome. But the policy of the 
Gracchi had dealt a fatal blow at its supremacy. Proscrip- 
tions and civil wars had thinned its ranks. The first 
Caesar had treated it with studied disrespect, and in the 
subsequent times of anarchy the influence of the order 
and the reputation of its members had sunk to the lowest 
depth of degradation. It was one of the first cares of 
A. H. C 



B.C. 31— 


18 The Earlier Empire, 

Augustus to restore its credit. At the risk of odium and 
personal danger he more than once revised the list, and 
purged it of unworthy members, summoning eminent pro- 
vincials in their place. He was careful of their outward 
dignity, and made the capital of a million sesterces a 
needful condition of the rank. The functions also of the 
Senate were in theory enlarged. Its decrees on questions 
brought before it had henceforth the binding force of 
law. As the popular assemblies ceased to meet for legis- 
lation, case after case was submitted to its judgment, 
till it gained speedily by prescription a jurisdiction of 
wide range, and before long it decided the elections at its 
will or registered the nominations of the Emperor. 

But the substance of power and independence had 
passed away from it for ever. Matters of great moment 
Priry were debated first, not in the Senate House, 

Council, but in a sort of Privy Council formed by the 
trusted advisers of the Emperor, while the discussions of 
the larger body served chiefly to mask the forms of abso- 
lutism, to feel the pulse of popular sentiment, and to re- 
gister decisions formed elsewhere. Treated with respect 
and courtesy by wary princes, the senators were the special 
mark of the jealousy and greed of the worst rulers. 

If we now turn our thoughts from the centre to the 
provinces we shall find that the imperial system brought 
with it more sweeping changes and more real 
ment ofThc improvement. Almost every country of the 
provinces. Roman world had long been frightfully mis- 
governed. Towards the end of the Republic there rises 
from every land a cry in tones that grow ever louder — a 
cry of misery and despair — that their governors are 
greedy and corrupt, scandalously indifferent to justice, 
conniving at the exto\tion of the Roman capitalists who 
farmed the tithes and taxes, and of the money-lenders, 
who had settled like leeches all around them. 



— A.D; Augustus, jg 

The governors who hastened to their provinces after 
a short tenure of official rank at Rome looked to the 
emoluments of office to retrieve their fortunes, exhausted 
frequently by public shows and bribery at home. They 
abused their power in a hundred ways to amass enormous 
wealth, with little check from the public opinion of their 
order, or from the courts of law before which they might 
possibly be prosecuted by their victims or their livals. 

But a new order of things was now begun. Augustus 
left to the Senate the nominal control of the more peace- 
ful provinces, which needed little military force, senatorial 
To these ex-consuls and ex-praetors were sent provinces, 
out as before, but with no power of the sword and little 
of the purse. High salaries were paid to them directly 
by the state, but the sources of indirect gains were gradu- 
ally cut off By their side was a proctor of the Emperor’s 
privy purse, to watch their conduct and report their mis- 
demeanours. At home there was a vigilant ruler, ready 
to give ear to the complaints of the provincials, and to 
see that justice was promptly done by the tribunals or the 
Senate. Doubtless we still hear of much misgovernment, 
and scandalous abuses sometimes are detailed, for the 
evils to be checked had been the growth of ages, and 
the vigilance of a single ruler, however strict, must have 
been oftentimes at fault. 

The remaining countries, called imperial provinces, 
were ruled by generals, called legati, or in some few cases 
by proctors only. They held office during imperial 
the good pleasure of their master, and for provinces, 
longer periods often than the senatorial governors. There 
are signs that the imperial provinces were better ruled, 
and that the transference of a country to this class from 
the other was looked upon as a real boon, and not as an 
empty honour. 

Such in its chief features was the system of Augustus, 

Cf 



20 The Earlier Empire, b.c. 31-* 

the rudiments of the bureaucratic system which was 
General slowly organized by later ages. This was his 

the*new'^°^ constructive policy, and on the value of this 
rc£:ime. Creative work his claims to greatness must be 
based. To the provinces the gain undoubtedly was great. 
His rule brought them peace and order and the essentials 
of good government. It left the local forms of self-rule 
almost untouched, and lightened, if it did not quite re- 
move, the incubus of oppression which had so long tight- 
ened its grasp upon their throats. At Rome, too, the 
feeling of relief was keenly felt. Credit recovered with a 
rebound after the victory at Actium. Prices and the rate 
of interest fell at once. The secret adherents of the 
fallen cause began to breathe again more freely when they 
heard no mention of proscription ; the friends of order 
learnt with joy that the era of anarchy was closed ; rigid 
republicans found their jealous suspicions half-disarmed 
by the respect shown for the ancient forms and names, 
by the courtesy with which the Senate had been treated, 
and above all, perhaps, by the modest, unassuming man- 
Thc homei prince. F or he shunned carefully 

manne^rTof^ all outward pomp, moved about the streets 
Aug^ustus. almost unattended, sat patiently through the 
games and shows which the Romans passionately loved, 
went out to dinner readily when asked, and charmed men 
by his simple courtesy. He could bear plain speaking too, 
for a blunt soldier to whose petition he said that he was too 
busy to attend, told him to his face, that he had never 
said he was too busy to expose his own life for him in battle. 
The expenses of his household scarcely rose to the level 
of those of many a wealthy noble ; he wore no clothes 
save those made for him by Livia and her women, and 
studiously avoided all profusion or extravagance. He 
tried also to spare his people^s purses, for upon a jour- 
ney he often passed through a town by night, to give 



— a.d. 14. Augiistus. 21 

the citizens no chance of proving tlieir loyalty by costly 
outlay. 

But he spent his treasure lavishly for public ends 
The public games and festivals provided by him were 
on a scale of magnificence quite unexampled ; Liberal 
great sums were often spent in largess to the 
populace of Rome. In times of scarcity corn objects, 
was sold in the capital below cost price, besides the vast 
quantities distributed in free doles among the poor. 
Noble senators of decayed fortunes were often pensioned, 
to enable them to live up to their rank. Costly buildings 
set apart for public uses, temples, baths, theatres, and 
aqueducts, rose rapidly on every side. His kinsmen, 
intimates, all whom his influence could move, vied with 
him in such outlay, and helped him to realise the boast 
of later days, ^ that he found a city of brick and left one 
of marble in its place.^ The great roads in Italy and 
through the provinces were carefully repaired, and a postal 
system set on foot, confined, it is true, to official uses. 
Armed patrols marched along the roads, brigandage was 
forcibly put down, slave-gangs were inspected, and the 
abuses of times of violence redressed. In the capital 
itself a police force was organized for the first time, in- 
tended mainly at the first for protection against fire, but 
soon extended and made permanent to secure peace and 
order in the streets, which for centuries the Republic had 
neglected. In distant countries his fatherly care was 
shown in time of need by liberal grants of money, to help 
public works, or repair the ravages of earthquakes. 
The interests of the legions also were consulted, but not 
at the expense of quiet citizens, as before. Vast sums 
were spent in buying up lands in the neighbourhood of 
the great towns of Italy, where war or slow decay had 
thinned their numbers, in order at once to recruit the 
urban population and supply the veterans witli farms. 



22 The Earlier Empire. b.c. 31— 

Colonies were planted, too, beyond the seas, for the relief 
of the overgrown populace of Rome. 

There was enough in such material boons to conciliate 
all classes through the Empire. The stiff-necked cham- 
Readyac- pioiis of the Republic had died upon the 
battle-field ; a generation had grown up de- 
changes. moralised by years of anarchy, and few were 
left to mourn the loss of freedom. F ew eyes could see 
what was one day to be apparent, that the disguises and the 
insincerities of the new rSgime were full of danger; that to 
senator and office-bearer the paths of politics were strewn 
with snares ; that in the face of a timid or suspicious 
ruler it would be as perilous to show their fear as to 
make a brave show of independence. For a while they 
heard the familiar sounds of Senate, consul, and of 
tribune ; they saw the same pageants as of old in daily 
life. Nor did they realise as yet that liberty was gone for 
ever, and that the ancient forms that passed before them 
were as empty of real life as the ancestral masks that 
moved along the streets to the noble Roman’s funeral 
pyre. 

From the imperial machinery we may next turn to 
the great men who helped possibly to create and cer- 
tainly to work it. It was the singular good 

ITie chief c . c ^ . .u -r 

ministers of fortunc of Augustus to sccui e the services of 

Augxistus. ministers like Agrippa and Maecenas, of 

different genius but equal loyalty of character. 

Marcus Vipsanius, surnamed Agrippa, had been in 
early days the schoolfellow and intimate of Octavius. 

They were at Apollonia together, studying 
gnppa. philosophy and art of Greece, when the 

tidings came that Caesar had been murdered. They were 
together when the bold scheme was formed and the two 
youths set forth together to claim the heritage of Caesar 
and to strive for the empire of the world. To whom the 



— A.D. 14- Augustus, 23 

initiative was due we know not; but we do know that 
Agrippa^s courage never wavered, though Octavianus 
seemed at times ready to falter and draw back. To the 
many-sided activity of Agrippa and to his 

. i- i /•! His energy. 

unfailing resolution the success of that enter- 
prise seems mainly due. He was the great general of 
the cause that triumphed, the hero of every forlorn hope, 
and the knight-errant for every hazardous adventure in 
distant regions. His energy helped to win Perusia after 
stubborn siege; his quick eye saw in the Lucrine lake the 
shelter for the fleets that were to be manned and trained 
before they could hope to face Sextus Pompeius, the bold 
corsair chief, who swept the seas and menaced Rome 
with famine. Thanks to him again the victory of Actium 
was won, for the genius if not the courage of Octavianus 
failed him on the scene of battle. 

Whenever danger showed itself henceforth — in Gaul, 
in Spain, where the native tribes rose once more in 
arms ; in Pontus, where one of the line of Mithridates 
unfurled the banner of revolt; on the shores of the 
Danube, where the Pannonians were stirring — no hand 
but Agrippa^s could be trusted to dispel the gathering 
storms. We find in him not heroism alone self-sacri- 
but the spirit of self-sacrifice. Three times, fice. 
we read, he refused the honours of a triumph. At a 
word he stooped to the lowest round of official rank, the 
sedileship, burdened as it was with the ruinous responsi- 
bilities of shows and festivals, and kept the Romans in 
good humour at a critical moment of the civil struggle. 
To win further popularity by the sweets of material 
well-being, the soldier forsook the camp and courted 
the arts of peace, busied himself with sanitary reforms, 
repaired the magnificent cloacce of old Rome, pu^iic 
constructed the splendid ther7ncE for the 
hot baths introduced from Eastern lands, built new 



24 


The Far Her Empire, 


B.C. 31 ~ 


aqueducts towering aloft upon the arches of the old, 
and distributed the pure water so conveyed to foun- 
tains in every quarter of the city, which were decorated 
with statues and columns of precious marbles to be 
counted by the hundred. Another sacrifice was called 
for — to divorce the daughter of Atticus, Cicero’s famous 
Marries friend, and draw nearer the throne by marry- 
Marceiia. jng the Emperoi^s niece, Marcella; and he 
obeyed from dutiful submission to his master, or from the 
ambitious hope to share the power which his sword had 
won. Soon it seemed as if his loyalty was to meet with 
its reward. Augustus was brought to death’s door by 
sudden illness, and, in what seemed like his last hour, 
seized Agrippa’s hand and slipped a ring upon the fin- 
ger, as if to mark him out for his successor. But health 
returned again, and with it visible coolness towards 
Agrippa and increased affection for Marcellus, his young 
nephew. 

Agrippa resigned himself without a murmur, and 
Retires to lived in retirement a while at Lesbos, till the 
Lesbos. death of Marcellus and the warnings of 
Maecenas pointed him out again as the only successor 
worthy of the Empire. Signs of discontent among the 
populace of Rome quickened the Emperor’s desire to 
have his trusty friend beside him, and to draw him yet 
Marries more closely to him he bade him put away 

Julia. Marcella, and gave him his own daughter 

Julia. Once more he obeyed in silence, and now might 
fairly hope to be rewarded for his patience and one day to 
mount into the weakly Emperor’s place. But his lot was 
to be always second, never first. His strong frame, slowly 
weakened by hard campaigns and ceaseless journeys at 
full speed in every quarter of the world, gave 
(».c la). way at last, and his career was closed while 
he seemed yet in his prime. In him Augustus lost a 



-A.D. 14. Augustus. 25 

gallant soldier and unselfish friend, who is said, indeed, to 
have advised him after Actium to resign his power, but 
who certainly had done more than any other to set him up 
and to keep him on the pinnacle of greatness. It throws 
a curious light upon his story to read the comment on it 
in the pages of the naturalist Pliny. He is ^ , 

, . ^ , . . / , Remarks of 

speaking of the superstitious fancy that Pliny about 

misery clouded the lives of all who were 
called Agrippa. In spite, he says, of his brilliant ex- 
ploits he was no exception to the rule. He was un- 
lucky in his wife Julia, who dishonoured his good name; 
in his children, who died by poison or in exile ; and un- 
happy also in bearing all his life what he calls the hard 
bondage of Augustus. The friend for whom he toiled 
so long and faithfully showed little tenderness of heart; 
the master whom he served had tasked his energies in 
every sphere, and called for many an act of self-devotion, 
but he had already looked coldly on his loyal minister, 
and he might at any moment weary of a debt he could 
not pay, and add another page to the long chronicle of 
the ingratitude of princes. 

Maecenas, better known by his mother’s name than 
that of Cilnius, his father, came from an 
Etruscan stock that had given a line of 
masters to Arretium. He was better fitted for the council 
chamber than the field of battle, for the delicate man- 
oeuvres of diplomacy than for the rough work of stormy 
times. During the years of civic struggle, and while the 
air was charged with thunder-clouds, we find him always, 
as the trusty agent of Octavianus, engaged on jjp|^ 
every important mission that needed adroit- n^atic *kiiL 
ness and address. His subtle tact and courtesies were 
tried with the same success upon Sextus Pompeius and 
on Antonins, when the confidence of each was to be won, 
or angry feelings charmed away, or the dangers of a coali- 



26 The Earlier Empire, b.c. 31— 

tion met. His honied words were found of not less avail 
with the populace of Rome, when scarcity and danger 
threatened and the masters of the legions were away. 
It seemed, indeed, after the Empire was once established 
that his political career was closed, for he professed no 
Avoided ambition, refused to wear the gilded 

official rank, chains of office, or to rise above the modest 
rank of knighthood. He seemed content with his great 
wealth (how gained we need not ask), with the social 
charms of literary circles and the refinements of luxu- 
rious ease, of which the Etruscans were proverbially 
fond. But his influence, though secret, was as potent 
. , , as before. He was still the Emperor’s 

chief adviser chief adviscr, Counselling tact and modera- 
of Augustus, ready to soothe his ruffled nerves when 

sick and weary with the cares of state. He was still 
serving on a secret mission, and one that lasted all his 
life. Keenly relishing the sweets of peace and all 
Influenced the refined and social pleasures which a 
Rom^* great capital alone can furnish, haunted by 
circles no high principles to vex his Sybaritic ease, 
and gifted with a rare facility of winning words, he was 
peculiarly fitted to influence the tone of Roman circles 
and diffuse a grateful pride in the material blessings of 
imperial rule. He could sympathise with the weariness 
of men who had passed through long years of civic strife 
and seen every cause betrayed by turns, and who craved 
only peace and quiet, with leisure to enjoy and to forget, 
through the Instinct or policy soon led him to caress the 
po«ts, rising poets of the day, for their social 

influence might be great. Their epigrams soon passed 
from mouth to mouth ; a well-turned phrase or a bold 
satire lingered in the memory long after the sound of the 
verses died away; and the practice of public recitations 
gave them at times something of the power to catch the 



— A.D. 14 Augustus. 2 J 

public ear which journalism has had in later days. So 
from taste and policy alike Maecenas played the part of 
patron of the arts and letters. He used the , . 

^ . 1 • r T T • 1 ^ 

hne point and wit of Horace to sing the patron, 
praises of the enlightened ruler who gave Horace, 
peace and plenty to the world, to scoff meantime at high 
ambitions, and play with the memory of fallen causes. 
The social philosophy of moderation soothed the self- 
respect of men who were sated with the fierce game of 
politics and war, and gladly saw their indolent and 
sceptical refinement reflected in the poet^s graceful words. 
He used the nobler muse of Vergil to lead 
the fancy of the Romans back to the good 
old days, ere country life was deserted for the camp an^ 
city, suggesting the subject of the Georgies to revive the 
old taste for husbandry and lead men to break up the 
waste land with the plough. He helped also to degrade 
that muse by leading it astray from worthier themes to 
waste its melody and pathos in the uncongenial attempt 
to throw a halo of heroic legend round the cradle of the 
Julian line. Other poets, too, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid, 
paid dearly for the patronage which cramped their genius 
and befouled their taste, and in place of truer inspiration 
prompted chiefly amorous insipidities and servile adula- 
tion. For himself his chief aim in later life His domestic 
seemed careless ease, but that boon fled trials, 
away from him the more he wooed it. The Emperor 
eyed Terentia, his wife, too fondly, and the injured hus- 
band consoled himself with the best philosophy he 
could. But she was a scold as well as a coquette, and 
now drove him to despair with bitter words, now lured 
him to her side again, till their quarrels passed at length 
beyond the house and became the common talk of all 
the gossips of the town. As he was borne along the 
streets, lolling in his litter, in a dress loose with studied 



28 


The Earlier Empire, b.c. 31 — 


negligence, his fingers all bedecked with rings, with 
eunuchs and parasites and jesters in his train, men asked 
each other with a smile what was the last news of the 
fickle couple — were they married or divorced again? At 
Sleepless- ncrvcs gave way and sleep forsook 

ness. him. In vain he had recourse to the plea- 

sures of the table which his Tuscan nature loved, to the 
rare wines that might lull his cares to rest, to distant 
orchestras of soothing music. In earlier days he had set 
to tuneful verse what Seneca calls the shameful prayer, 
that his life might still be spared when health and 
strength and comeliness forsook him. He lived long 
enough to feel the vanity of all his wishes. Nothing 
could cure his lingering agony of sleeplessness or drive 
the spectre of death from his bedside. But the end 
came at last. He passed away, and, loyal even in his 
death, he left the Emperor his heir. 

We have watched Augustus in his public life, and 
marked his measures and his ministers ; it is time now to 
turn to his domestic circle and see what influences were 
about him there. The chief figure to be 
studied is Livia, his wife, who had been the 
object of his violent love while still married to Tiberius 
Nero, and had been forced to quit her reluctant husband 
for the home of the triumvir. She soon gained over him 
Sources of an influence that never wavered. Her gentle 
over>Vu-^"^* courtesies of manner, her wifely virtues never 
gustus, tainted by the breath of scandal, the homeli- 
ness with which she copied the grave matrons of old 
days who stayed at home and spun the wool to clothe 
their men, the discreet reserve with which she shut her 
eyes to her husband^s infidelities, are the reasons given 
by herself, as we are told, when she was asked for the 
secret of her power. Quite insufficient in themselves, 
they may have helped to secure the ascendency which 


Lma. 



— A.D. 14. Augustus, 29 

her beauty and her strength cf character had won. The 
gradual change that may be traced in the 
outward bearing of Augustus may be due nature, 
partly to her counsels. Certainly she seemed to press 
patience and forbearance on him, and Dion Cassius at a 
later time puts into her mouth a pretty sermon on the 
grace of mercy when her husband’s temper had been 
soured by traitorous plots. She was open-handed too 
in works of charity, brought up poor children at her 
own expense, and gave many a maid a marriage dower. 
Caligula, who knew her well, and had insight in his own 
mad way, called her ‘Ulysses in petticoats;’ and the men 
of her own day, it seems, thought her such a ^ 

subtle schemer, that they credited her with her sinister 
acts of guile of which no evidence was pro- 
duced. Dark rumours floated through the streets of 
Rome, and men spoke of her in meaning whispers, as 
death knocked again and again at the old man’s doors 
and the favourites of the people passed away. It was 
her misfortune or her guilt that all who were nearest to 
the Emperor, all who stood between her son and the suc- 
cession, died by premature and seemingly mysterious 
deaths. The young Marcellus, to whose memory Vergil 
raised the monument of his pathetic lines ; the brave 
Agrippa, cut off when all his hopes seemed nearest to ful- 
filment; two of Julia’s children by Agrippa, within eighteen 
months of each other ; all died in turn before their time, 
and all w’ere followed to the grave by regrets and by 
suspicions that grew louder in each case. For Livia had 
had no children by Augustus, Of the fruit of her first 
marriage Drusus died in Germany, and Tiberius alone 
was left. The popular fancy, goaded by re- 

, , / to secure the 

peated losses, found it easy to believe that a succcMion 01 

ruthless tragedy was going on before their 

eyes, and that the chief actor was a mother scheming 



30 


The Earlier Empire, 


B.c. 31- 


for her son, calmly sweeping from his path every 
rival that she feared. One grandson still 

Ireatment , r 1 r t i- , t m 1 

ofAgrippa was left, the youngest of Julia's children, 
Postumus Agrippa Postumus, who was born after his 
father’s death. On him Augustus lavished his love 
awhile as the last hope of his race, adopted him even as 
his own ; but soon he found, or was led to fancy, that 
the boy was clownish and intractable, removed him to 
Surrentum, and when confinement made him worse, to 
the island of Planasia. But one day pity or regret stole 
over the old man’s heart: he slipped away quietly with a 
single confidant to see the boy, seemed to feel the old 
love revive again, and spoke as if he would restore him 
to his place at home. The one bystander told his wife 
the story, and she whispered it to Livia’s ear. That 
witness died suddenly soon after, and his wife was 
heard to moan that her indiscretion caused his death. 
Story of Then Livia dared no longer to wait, lest a 
poisoning dotard’s fondness should be fatal to her 
Augustus. hopes. Quietly she took her potent drugs to 
a favourite fig-tree in a garden close at hand, then as they 
walked together later on offered him the poisoned figs 
and ate herself of the harmless ones that grew beside. 
Such were the stories that were current at the time, 
too lightly credited perhaps from fear or hate, but 
noteworthy as reflecting the credulous suspicions of 
the people, and the fatality that seemed to haunt the 
household of the Caesars. Of that family the two Julias 
yet remained alive, the wife and daughter of Agrippa ; 
but they were pining in their lonely prisons, and their 
memory had almost passed away. 

Julia. elder Julia was the child of Augustus by 

Her be- Scribonia. Betrothed while still in the nursery 
to a young son of Antonius, she was promised 
in jest to Cotison, a chieftain of the Getae, and then to the 



— A.i>. 14. Attgmttts, 31 

nephew of the Emperor, Marcellus. At his death she 
passed, at the age of seventeen, and with her 
the hopes of the succession, to Agrippa’s riages, 
house, where an earlier wife was displaced to make room 
for her. Eleven years she lived with him, and when he died 
Tiberius must in his turn divorce the Agrippina whom he 
loved and take the widowed princess to his house. She had 
been brought up strictly, almost sternly by her father. 
Profligate as he had been himself in early life, his stan- 
dard of womanly decorum was a high one, and he wished 
to see in Julia the austere dignity of the Roman matrons 
of old days. But she was readier to follow the examples 
of his youth than the disguises and hypocrisies of his 
later life. She scorned the modest homeliness of Livia 
and the republican simplicity of Augustus, aired ostenta- 
tiously her pride of race, and loved profusion and display. 
Once freed by marriage from the restraints „ 
of her father’s home, she began a career of gance and 
license unparalleled even for that age. She 
flung to the winds all womanly reserves, paraded often 
in her speech a cynical disdain for conventional re 
straints, and gathered round her the most reckless of the 
youth of Rome, till her excesses became a scandal and 
a byword through the town. The Emperor was the last 
to know of his dishonoured name. He had 
marked, indeed, with grave displeasure her known to hci 
love of finery and sumptuous living, had even 
destroyed a house which she built upon too grand a scale ; 
but for years no one dared to tell him more, till at last 
some one, perhaps Livia, raised the veil, and the whole 
story of her life was known. He heard of her long 
career of guilty license, and how but lately she had roved 
at night through the city with her tram of revellers and 
made the Forum the scene of her worst orgies, dishonour- 
ing with bold words and shameless deeds the very tri- 



32 


The Earlier Empire. 


B.C. 31— 


bune where her father stood but yesterday to speak 
in favour of his stricter marriage laws. He was told, 
though with little show of truth, that she was plotting a 
still darker deed and urging her paramour to take his 
life. The blow fell very hardly on the father, and 
clouded all the peace of his last years. At first his 
rage passed quite from his control. Her desks were 
ransacked, her slaves were tortured, and all the in- 
famous details poured out before the Senate. When 
he was told that Pheebe, the freed woman and con- 
fidant of Julia, had hung herself in her despair he 
answered grimly, ^ Would that I were Phoebe’s father.’ 
Nothing but her death seemed likely to content him. 
Then came a change ; he shut himself away from 
sight, and would speak of her no more. She was 
Her banish- lo a cheerless island; and though the 

ment(B.c. 2) fickle people, and Tiberius even, pleaded 
for her pardon, she was at most allowed at Rhegium 
a less gloomy prison. There, in her despairing lone- 
liness, she must have felt a lingering agony 
And misery. retribution. She heard how the hand 
of vengeance fell upon her friends and paramours, 
and, harder still to bear, how child after child mys- 
teriously died, and only two were left — Agrippa, thrust 
away from sight and pity on his petty island, and Julia, 
who had followed in her mother’s steps, and was an exile 
and a prisoner like herself. 

Such family losses and dishonours might well em- 
bitter the Emperor’s last years ; but other causes helped 
to deepen the gloom which fell upon him. Since 
Agrippa’s death there was no general whom he could 
trust to lead his armies, no strong hand to curb the 
restless tribes of the half-conquered North, or roll back 
from the frontiers the tide of war. He sent his grand- 
sons to the distant armies ; but they were young 



A.D. 14 . Augustus, 33 

and inexperienced, and firmer hands than theirs were 
needed to save the eagles from disgrace. 

One great disaster at this time revealed the danger 
and sent a thrill of horror through the Empire. The 
German tribes upon the Gallic border had Disasters iu 
kept unbroken peace of late, and many of Germany, 
them seemed quite to have submitted to the Roman rule. 
A few years before, indeed, some hordes had dashed 
across the Rhine upon a j)lundering foray, and in the 
course of it had laid an ambush for the Defeat of 
Roman cavalry, and driven them and Lollius, i^oilius, 
their leader, backward in confusion and disgrace. But 
that storm had rolled away again, and the tribes sent 
hostages and begged for peace. Roman influence 
seemed spreading through the North, as year by year the 
legions and the traders carried the arts of settled life into 
the heart of Germany. But in an evil hour Quintilius V arus 
was sent thither in command. The rule seemed too lax 
and the change too slow for his impatience, and he set 
himself to consolidate and civilize in hot haste. Discom 
tent and disaffection spread apace, but Varus saw no 
danger and had no suspicions. The German chieftains, 
when their plots were laid, plied him with fair assurances 
of peace, lured him to leave the Rhine and march to- 
wards the Visurgis (Weser) through tribes that were all 
ready for revolt. Wiser heads warned him of the coming 
danger, but in vain. He took no heed, he would not even 
keep his troops together and in hand. At last the schemers, 
Arminius (Hermann) at their head, thought the time had 
come. They began the rising at a distance, and made 
him think it only a local outbreak in a friendly country ; 
so they led him on through forest lands, then rose upon 
him on all sides in a dangerous defile. The legions, taken 
by surprise as they were marching carelessly, hampered 
with baggage and camp-followers, could make little head 
AH, D 



34 


The Earlier Empire. 


B.C. 31— 


against their foes. They tried to struggle on through 
swamps and woods, where falling trees crushed them as 
they passed along, and barricades were piled b / unseen 
hands, while wind and rain seemed leagued together foi 
their min. Three days they stood at bay and strove to 
beat off their assailants, who returned with fresh fury 
and loss of charge. Then their strength or courage 

Varus, with failed them. The more resolute spirits slew 
legions. thcmsclves with their own hands, and the 
A.D. 9 sank down to die. Of three full legions 

few survived, and for many a year the name of that 
field of death — the Saltus Teutoburgiensis — sounded 
ominously in Roman ears. 

In the capital there was a panic for awhile. A short 
time before they had heard the tidings that Pannonia 
Panic at revolt, and now came the news that 

Rome, Gennany was all in arms, and, forcing the 
Roman lines, stripped as they were of their army of defence, 
might pour even into Italy, which seemed a possible nay 
easy prey. The danger, indeed, was not so imminent. 
Tiberius, and after him Germanicus, maintained the fron- 
tier and avenged their soldiers ; but the loss of prestige 
was very great, and the emperor felt it till his death. For 
months of mourning he would not trim his beard or cut 
his hair, and ^ Varus, give me back my legions was the 
moan men often heard him utter. He felt it the more 
and riefof because soldicrs were so hard to find, 

the Em-” ° At the Centre no one would enlist. In vain 
peror, appealed to their sense of honour, in vain 

he had recourse to stringent penalties ; he was forced at 
last to enrol freedmen and make up his legions from the 
who can rabble of the streets. He had seen long since 
hardly levy with alarm that the population wa^ decreasing, 
soldiers, re-stocked the dwindling country towns 

with colonists, had tried to promote marriage among all 



— A,D. 14. Augustus. 35 

classes, had forced through a reluctant Senate the Lex 
Papia Poppaea by which celibacy was saddled with penal 
disabilities. But men noticed with a sneer that the two 
consuls after whom the law was named were both un- 
married, and it was a hopeless effort to arrest such social 
tendencies by legislation. The central countries of the 
Empire could not now find men to fill the ranks. The 
veterans might be induced to forsake the little glebes 
of which they soon grew weary, but others would not 
answer to the call. Whole regions were almost deserted, 
and the scanty populations had little mind for war. So 
the distant provinces became the legions’ re- 

, ... . , except in 

cruiting-ground, and the last comers in the the pro- 
Empire must defend it vmces. 

Under the pressure of such public and domestic cares 
we need not wonder that the Emperor became moody 
and morose, and that the unlovely quali- 
ties of earlier days began to re-appear. He grew 
shunned the gentle courtesies of social life, 
would be present at no festive gathering, disliked even 
to be noticed or saluted. Increasing weakness gave 
him an excuse for failing to be present in the Senate — 
a few picked men could represent the body, and the 
Emperor’s bedchamber became a privy council. He 
heard with petulance that the exiles in the islands 
were trying to relax the rigour of their lot, and living 
in comfort and in luxury. Stringent restrictions were 
imposed upon their freedom. He heard and resented 
of writings that were passing through men’s criticism, 
hands in which his name was spoken of with caustic wit 
and scant respect. The books must be hunted out at 
once and burnt, and the authors punished if they could 
be found. The bitter partisanship with which Titus 
Labienus had expressed his republican sympathies, and 



36 


The Earlier Empire. 


B.c. 31- 


talis en- 
forced 
against 
authors. 


Ovid. 


the meaning look with which he turned over pages of his 
history, which could be read only after he was dead, have 
made his name almost typical of the struggle between 
despotism and literary independence. Cassius Severus 
said he must be burnt himself, if the memory of Labienus’ 
work must be quite stamped out; and his was, accordingly, 
the first of the long list of cases in which the old laws of 
Leges M ajes- b'^^son —the Lcgcs M ajdstatis — were strained 
to reach not acts alone but words. A much 
more familiar name, the poet Ovid, is brought 
before us at this time. The spoiled child of 
the fashionable society of Rome, he had early lent his 
facile wit to amuse the careless worldlings 
round him, had made a jest of the remon- 
strances of serious friends, who tried to win his thoughts 
to politics and busy life, and had squandered all his high 
gifts of poetry on frivolous or wanton themes. His con- 
versational powers or his literary fame attracted the 
notice of the younger Julia, and he was drawn into the 
gay circle that surrounded her. There in an evil hour, 
it seems, he was made the confidant of dangerous secrets, 
and was one of the earliest to suffer when the Emperor\s 
eyes at last were opened. To the would-be censor and 
reformer of the public morals, who had turned his back 
upon the follies of his youth, the poet’s writings must 
have been long distasteful, as thinly veiled allurements to 
licentiousness. The indignant grandfather eyed them 
still more sternly, saw in them the source or the apology 
of wanton deeds, and drove their author from the Rome 
he loved so well to a half-civilised home at 
Tomi, on the Scythian frontier, from which 
all his unmanly flatteries and lamentations 
failed to free him. 

It was time Augustus should be called away ; he 
had lived too long for happiness and fame, his subjects 


Banished to 
I'onai. 

A.D. 8. 



— A..D. 14. 


/lugicstiis. 


37 


were growing weary of their master, and some were ready 
to conspire against him. Still doubtless in the provinces 
men blessed his name, as they thought of 
the prosperity and peace which he had long last less 
secured to them. One ship^s crew of Alexan- RomlThan 
dria, we read, when he put into Puteoli, »n the pro- 
where they were, came with garlands, frank- 
incense, and glad words of praise to do him honour. ^ To 
him they owed,’ so ran their homage, ^ their lives, their 
liberties, and the wellbeing of their trade.’ But those 
who knew him best were colder in their praises now, and 
scarcely wished that he should tarry long among them. 
For seventy-five years his strength held out, sickly and 
enfeebled as his body seemed. The summons came as 
he was coasting by Campania, and left him only time to 
crawl to Naples and thence to Nola, where piedat 
he died. To those who stood beside his bed Nola. 
his last words, if reported truly, breathe the spirit of his 
life : ‘What think ye of the comedy, my friends 1 Have 
I fairly played my part in it ? If so, applaud.’ The 
applause, if any, must be given to the actor rather than 
to the man, for the least lovely features of his character 
seem most truly his. 

In his last years he was busy with the task of giving 
an account of his long stewardship. Long ago he had set 
on foot a survey of the Empire, and maps had iiis survey 
been prepared by the geographical studies of 
Agrippa. Valuations of landed property had world, 
been made, as one step, though a very partial one, towards 
a uniform system of taxation. He had now and sum- 
gathered up for the benefit of his successors 
and the Senate all the varied information statistics, 
that lay ready to his hand. He had written out with his 
own hand, we are told, the statistics of chief moment, an 
account of the population in its various grades of pnvi- 



B.C. 3I-* 


38 The Earlier Empire, 

!ege> tfie muster-rolls of all the armies and the fleets, 
and the balance-sheet of the revenue and expenditure of 
state. Taught by the experience of later years, or from 
the depression caused by decaying strength, he added foi 
, . . future rulers the advice to be content with 

and advice ... 

to his sue- organizing what was won already, and not to 
cessors. push the frontiers of the army further. Before 
he died he took a last survey of his own life, wrote 
out a summary of all the public acts which he cared 
to recall to memory, and left directions that the chro- 
nicle should be engraved on brazen tablets in the 
mausoleum built to do him honour. That chronicle may 

,, still be read, though not at Rome. In a dis- 
The Monu- . ^ f ^ ^ , 

mentum An- tant province, at the town of Ancyra, in Gala- 

cyranum. ^ temple had been built for the worship 

of Augustus, and the guardian priests had a copy of his 
own biography carved out at length in stone on one of 
the side-walls. The temple has passed since then to other 
uses and witnessed the rites of a different religion ; houses 
have sprung up round it, and partly hidden, though pro- 
bably preserved, the old inscription. Until of late only a 
part of It could be deciphered, but a few years ago the 
patient energy of the explorers sent out by the French 
Government succeeded in uncovering the whole wall and 
making a complete copy of nearly all that had been writ- 
ten on it. From the place where it was found its literary 
name is the ^ Monumentum Ancyranum.^ It is not without 
a certain grandeur, which even those may feel who dis- 
pute the author's claim to greatness. With stately con- 
fidence and monumental brevity of detail it unfolds the 
long roll of his successes. Disdaining seemingly to stoop 
to the pettiness of bitter words, it speaks calmly of his 
fallen rivals; veiling, indeed, in constitutional tenns the 
illegalities of his career, but misleading or unfair only 
by its silence. Not a word is there to revive the hateful 



—A.D. 14. 


Augustus. 


i9 


memory of’ the proscriptions, little to indicate the dire 
suspense of the war with Sextus Pompeius, or the straits 
and anxieties of the long struggle with Antonius ; but 
those questionable times of his career once passed, 
the narrative flows calmly on. It recounts with proud 
self-confidence the long list of battles fought and victories 
won ; the nations finally subdued under his rule ; 
the Eastern potentates who sought his friendship; the 
vassal princes who courted his protection. It tells of 
the many colonies which he had founded, and of the 
towns recruited by his veterans ; speaks of the vast 
sums that he had spent on shows and largess for the 
people ; and describes the aqueducts and various build- 
ings that had sprung up at his bidding to add to the 
material magnificence of Rome. For all these benefits 
the grateful citizens had hailed him as the father of his 
country. To the provincials who read these lines it 
might seem perhaps that there were few signs in them of 
any feeling that the Empire owed any duties to them- 
selves. A few words of reference to the sums spent in 
time of need upon their towns, and that was all. To the 
administrator it might seem a strange omission to say 
nothing of the great change in the ruling mechanism. 
Yet in what was there omitted lay his claim to greatness. 
The plea which justified the Empire was found in the 
newly-organized machinery of government and in the 
peace and justice long secured to the whole civilised 
world. 

High as he had risen in life, he was to be raised 
to a yet higher rank after his death, and the Au^jstus 
deified Augustus became, like many a sue- deihed 
ceeding emperor, the object of a national E^piana. 
worship. A phenomenon so startling to tions. 
our modem thought calls for some words of comment 
First, we may note that polytheism naturally tends to 



ft.C. 31- 


40 The Earlier Empire. 

efface the boundary-lines between the human and the 
^ divine. It peoples earth and air and water 

theism less with its phantom beings, of bounded powers 
scrupulous. clashing wills, and weaves with wanton 

hand the fanciful tissue of its legends, in which it plays 
with the story of their loves and hates and fitful moods of 
passion, till its deities can scarcely be distinguished from 
the mortal men and women in whose likeness they are 
pictured. 

Eastern thought, moreover, seldom scrupled to honour 
its great men with the names and qualities of god- 
2. Eastern head. Often in servile flattery, sometimes 
de£\hefr Perhaps in the spirit of a mystic creed, it 
kings. saw in the rulers whom it feared a sort of 

avatar or incarnation of a power divine, which it made 
the object of its worship. The Pharaohs of Egypt 
and the monarchs of Assyria were deified even in their 
lifetime by the language of inscriptions, and in latei 
times temples were raised in Asia Minor in honour of the 
governors of the day, so that Antonius and Cleopatra gave 
little shock to Eastern sentiment when in their royal 
pageant they assumed the titles and the symbols of Isis 
and Osiris. It was, therefore, on this side of the Roman 
world that the fashion of worshipping the Emperor began. 
Even in the lifetime of Augustus deputations came from 
towns of Asia which were anxious to set up altars and 
build temples in his honour. For awhile, indeed, he treated 
them with coldness and sometimes with mockery, he yet 
could not quite repress the enthusiasm of their servile 
worship, which grew apace in the more distant provinces. 

Less credulous minds looked upon the tendency 
tioiSbing ^ fanciful way of symbolizing a 

tendency»or great fact. Much of the simple faith in the 
eu^emer- legendary creeds had passed away before 

the critical spirit of Greek culture and many thought 



—A. a 14. Augustus, 41 

that the heroes and gods of the old fables were but the 
great men of past times seen through the mist of popular 
fancy, till a divine halo gathered round their superhuman 
stature. If the sentiment of bygone days had made gods 
out of the men who sowed the seeds of art and learning 
and tamed the savagery of early life, the wondering awe 
of ignorant folk might be allowed to crystallize still in the 
same forms, and to find a national deity in the great ruler 
who secured for the whole world the boon of civilised or- 
der. So reasoned probably the critical and unimpassioned, 
content to humour the credulous fancy of the masses, and 
to deal tenderly with an admiration which they did not 
share, but which it might be dangerous to thwart. 

Above all, in Italy the tendency in question found 
support and strength in a widespread feeling which had 
lingered on from early times, that the souls 4. The 
of men did not pass away at death, but still of th?' 
haunted their old homes, and watched as i^ares 
guardian Lares over the weal and woe of the generations 
that came after. Offering and prayer seemed but a fit- 
ting token of respect, and might be useful to quicken their 
sympathies or appease their envy. Thus every natural 
unity, the family, the clan, the canton, and the nation, had 
their tutelary powers and special ritual of genuine home- 
growth, while in nearly all besides the foreign influences 
had overlaid the old religious forms. It had 
been part of the conservative policy of Au- fostered^Ky 
gustus to foster these old forms of worship, Augustus, 
to repair the little chapels in the city wards, and to give 
priestly functions to the masters of the streets officially 
connected with them. Even while he lived he allowed 
the figure of his Genius to be placed in the chapels beside 
the Lares. At his death divine honours were xhe Genius 
assigned to it as to the rest, or rather it rose of Augustus, 
above them all, as the imperial unity had. towered above 



42 The Earlier Empire, a. a 14 

the petty districts which they were thought to guard. 
Temples rose to the deified Augustus, altars smoked 
, . in every land, and guilds of Augustales were 

Augustales. . , i i i , 

organized to do him priestly service— for the 
provinces were eager to follow the example of the im- 
perial city, and their loyal zeal had even outstripped the 
reverence of Rome. The ruling powers were well pleased 
to see a halo of awfulness gather round their race, while 
subject peoples saw in the apotheosis of the monarch 
only a fitting climax to the majesty of his life and a 
symbol of the greatness of the Empire. And so succeed- 
ing monarchs in their turn were deified by pagan Rome, 
as saints were canonized by favour of the Pope. The 
Senate’s vote gave divine honours with the title of 
* Divus,’ and it was passed commonly as a matter of 
course, or withheld only as a token of abhorrence or 
contempt. 


CHAPTER 11 . 

TIBERIUS.— A.D. I4-37. 

Tiberius Claudius Nero was the son of Tiberius Nero 
and Li via, and was carried by them while still an infant 

_ , in their hurried flight after the surrender of 

The early ^ 

life of Perusia. On their return to Rome after the 

Tibcnus. general peace his parents were separated by the 

imperious will of Octavianus, who made Livia his wife. 
Losing his father at the age of nine, and taken from the 
nursery to pronounce the funeral speech, he was placed 
again under his mother’s care and became the object 
of her ambitious hopes. He married the daughter of 
Agrippa, and loved her well, but was forced to leave 



4 D. 14-37. 


Tiberius, 


43 


her afterwards for Julia, who brought as her dowry the 
prospects of the imperial succession. He was soon sent 
to learn the business of a soldier, serving in Service in 
the campaign in Pannonia and Germany, and the field 
dispatched on missions of importance, such as to crown 
Tigranes in Armenia as a subject prince, and to carry 
home the eagles which had been lost in Parthia by 
Crassus. At home all the old offices of state 
were pressed upon him, till at last he was hon- o{ state, 
oured even with the significant honour of the tribunician 
power. Yet Augustus seems to have had little liking for him, 
and to have noted keenly all his faults, the taci- ... ... , 

, - , , • r „ • t. Little hked 

turn sullenness which contrasted painfully with by Au- 
the Emperor^s gayer moods, his awkward ges- 
tures and slow articulation when he spoke, the haugh- 
tiness of manner which came naturally to all the 
Claudian line, and the habit of hard drinking, on which 
the rude soldiers spent their wit when they termed him 
punningly ^ Biberius Mero.’ The Emperor even went 
so far as to speak to the Senate on the subject, and to say 
that they were faults of manner rather than of character. 
For the rest we hear that he was comely in face and well- 
proportioned, and handsome enough to attract Julia’s 
fancy ; nor could he be without strong natural affection, 
for he loved his first wife fondly, and lived happily with 
Julia for awhile, and showed the sincerest sorrow when his 
brother Drusus died. This is all we hear of him till the 
age of thirty-five. Then comes a great break in his ca- 
reer. Suddenly, without a word of explanation, His retire- 
he wishes to leave Rome and retire from Rhodes 
public life. Livia’s entreaties, the Emperor’s (b c* 6) 
protests, and the remonstrances of friends have no 
effect ; and having wrung from Augustus his consent, 
he betakes himself to Rhodes. What were his motives 
cannot now be known. It may have been in part his dis- 



4-4 


The Earlier Empire. 


A.D. 14-37. 


where ho 
lives auietl; 
thougn witi 
occasional 
show of 
power. 


gust at the guilty life of Julia, who outraged his honour and 
allowed her paramours to make merry with his character ; 
in part perhaps weariness at being always kept in leading- 
strings at Rome ; but most probably it was jealousy at the 
rising star of the young grandsons of the Emperor, and 
fear of the dangers that might flow from too visible a 
rivalry. In the pleasant isle of Rhodes he lived awhile, 
quietly enough, though he could not always 
drop his rank. One day he was heard to say 
that he would go and see the sick. He found 
that he was saved the trouble of going far 
in search, as the magistrates had them all 
brought out and laid in order under the arcades, with 
more regard to his convenience than theirs. Another 
time, when a war of words was going on among the 
wranglers in the schools, he stepped into the fray, and 
was so much hurt at being roughly handled that, hurrying 
home, he sent a guard to seize the poor professor who 
had ventured to ignore his dignity. At length, growing 
weary of his stay at Rhodes, he said that the young 
He wished pHnces were now secure of the succession, 
and that he might safely take a lower place at 
was not Rome. But Augustus coldly bade him stay 
allowed. further trouble about those whom 

he was so determined to forsake. 

Then came a time of terrible suspense. He knew 
that he was closely watched, and that the simplest words 
were easily misjudged. The Emperor reproached him 
with tampering with the loyalty of the officers who put in 

. at Rhodes to see him. He shunned the coast 

Hia danger 

and sus- and lived in solitude, to avoid all official 
visits, and yet he heard to his alarm that he 
was still regarded with suspicion, that threatening words 
had passed about him in the intimate circle of the young 
Caesars, that his prospects looked so black that the citi- 



A.D. 14-37 


TiOerius 


45 


zcns of Nemausus (Nismes) had even flung his statue 
down to curry favour with his enemies, that his innocence 
would help him little, and that at any moment he might 
fall. Only Thrasyllus, his astrologer, might see him, to 
excite him with ambiguous words. But Livia’s influence 
was strong enough at last to bring him back to Rome* 
after more than seven years of absence, to live, Uvia pro- 
however, in complete retirement in the gardens 
of Maecenas, to take like a schoolboy to mytho- (a.d. a) 
logy, and pose the grammarians who formed his little court 
with nice questions about the verses which the Seirens 
used to sing, or the false name which the young adoption 
Achilles bore. Not until the death of the young by Augustus. 
Caesars was he taken back to favour and adopted by the 
Emperor as his son. 

But the weariness of those long years of forced 
inaction, the lingering agony of that suspense had done 
their work, and he resigned himself hence- 

_ , . ' ° , -r^ , His patient 

forth without a murmur to the Emperor^s self-control 

will. Not a moment of impatience at the 
caprices of the sick old man, not an outspoken word noi 
hasty gesture now betrayed his feelings ; but, as an apt 
pupil in the school of hypocrisy about him, he learned to 
dissemble and to wait. The only favour that he asked 
was to take his post in every field of danger, and to prove 
his loyalty and courage. With all his powers Was usually 
of self-restraint he must have breathed more 
freely in the camp than in the stifling air of the army. 
Rome, and the revolt in Pannonia gave him the oppor- 
tunity he needed. That war, said to be the most dan- 
gerous since the wars with Carthage, tasked for three 
years all his resources as a general at the head of fifteen 
legions. Scarcely was it closed when the defeat of Varus 
summoned him to the German frontier to avenge the 
terrible disaster. In the campaigns that followed he 



A.D. 14-37 


46 


Tfte Earlier Empire. 


spared no vigilance or personal effort, shared the hard- 
ships of the soldiers, and enforced the rigorous discipline 
of ancient generals. Not only does Velleius Paterculus, 
who served among his troops, speak of his commander 
in terms of unbounded praise, but later writers, who 
paint generally a darker picture, describe his merits at 
this time without reserve. 

From such duties he was called away to the death- 
Recaiiedto bed of Augustus, whom he found at Nola, 
either dead alre^y or almost at the last 
Augustus. gasp. But Livia had been long since on 
the watch, had strictly guarded all approach to his bed- 
Prccautions know that the end was 

of Livia. near till her son was ready and their measures 
had been taken. He had been long since marked out 
for the succession by the formal act of adop- 
tion, which made him the natural heir, as 
also by the partnership in the tribunician 
dignity, which raised him above all the other 
subjects. But the title to the sovereign rank 
was vague and ill-defined, and no constitutional theory 
of succession yet existed. As the Empire by name and 
Consent of origin rested on a military basis the consent 
of the soldicry was all-important. If the 
unt. traditions of many years were to have weight, 

the Senate must be consulted and respected. The legions 
were far away upon the frontiers, in greatest force upon 
the side of Germany and Pannonia ; and the first news 
They were camc from the North was that the two 

in mutiny, armies were in mutiny, clamouring for higher 
pay and laxer discipline. The hasty levies raised after 
the defeat of Varus had lowered the general morale^ and 
carried to the camp the turbulent license of the capital 
On the Rhine there was the further danger that Germani- 
cus, his nephew, who was then in supreme command, 


Claim to 
succeed 
based 00 
adoption and 
tribuoicia 
potestas. 



A.D. I4-37- 


Tiberius. 


4 ? 


should rely on his influence with his troops and lead 
them on, or be led by them, to fight for empire. This 
son of Drusus, who had been the popular idol of his day, 
and who was said to have hankered after the old liberties 
of the Republic, had won himself the soldiers' hearts by 
his courtesy, gallantry, and grace, and the familiar name 
of Germanicus which they gave him is the only one by 
which history has known him since. They were ^ 
ready to assert their right to be consulted. 

The power which they defended was in their 
hands to give at a word from him, and if the highest 
that word had been spoken they would cer- 
tainly have marched in arms to Rome. But he was not 
fired by such ambitious hopes, nor had he had he been 
seemingly any sentimental dreams of ancient willing, 
freedom. He took without delay the oath of obedience 
to Tiberius, restored discipline after a few anxious days 
of mutiny, and then tried to distract the thoughts of his 
soldiers from dangerous memories by a series of cam- 
paigns into the heart of Germany. 

7'iberius meanwhile at home was feeling his way with 
very cautious steps. While he was still uncertain of the 
attitude of Germanicus and the temper of the legions, he 
used nothing but ambiguous language, affected caution of 
to decline the reins of the state, kept even the 
Senate in suspense, and at last with feigned pou» 
reluctance accepted office only for awhile, till 
they should see fit to give him rest It was in keeping with 
such policy that he shrank from the excessive shrank from 
honours which the Senate tried to lavish on tUie»of 
him, and declined even the titles which Augus- a^fSm 
tus had accepted. Either from fear or from 
disgust he showed dislike to the flattery which was at 
first rife about him, checked it when it was outspoken, 
and resented even as a personal offence the phrases 



48 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 14-37. 


Referred all 
business to 
the Senate, 


lord ^ and ‘ master ’ as applied to him. Meantime the 
Senate was encouraged to think that the 
powers of administration rested in their 
hands. Nothing was too paltry, nothing was 
too grave to be submitted for their discussion ; even 
military matters were at first referred to them, and 
generals in command were censured for neglecting to 
report their doings to the Council. I'he populace of 
but neg- Rome, however, was treated with less cour- 
popufar^^ tesy. The ancient forms of the elections 

assemblies were quite swept away, and in legislation 

also the Senate took the place of the popular assembly. 
Little attempt was made to keep the people in good 
and the humour by shows of gladiators or gorgeous 
pageants, and Tiberius would not try to put 
people. on the studied affability with which Augustus 
sat for hours through the spectacles, or the frank courtesy 
with which he stayed to salute the passers-by. But, on 
the other hand, he showed himself at first sincerely 
^ ^ desirous of just rule, warned provincial gover- 

anxious to nors who pressed him to raise higher taxes 
^^ovcrn well. good shepherd shears but does not 

flay his sheep,’ and kept a careful watch on the tribunals 
to see that the laws were properly enforced. Vigorous 
measures were adopted to put down brigandage, the 
police of Italy was better regulated, popular disturbances 
in the capital or in the provinces were promptly and even 
sternly checked, and many of the abuses were remedied 
which had grown out of the old rights of sanctuary. 

The policy of the early years of the new reign must 
have been largely due to Livia’s influence. For many 
^ years Tiberius had been much away from 

influence of Rome, and \t was natural that he should at 
first rely upon his mother’s well-tried state- 
craft, her knowledge of men and familiar experience of the 



A.D. 14-37. 


Tiberius, 


49 


social forces of the times. He owed all to her patient 
scheming, even if she had not, as men thought, swept 
away by poison the obstacles to his advancement. Her 
position was for many reasons a commanding one. The 
will of Augustus had named her as co-heiress, given 
her the official title of Augusta, and raised called 
her by adoption to the level of her son. She Augusta, 
shared with him, therefore, in some measure the imperial 
dignity ; their names were coupled in official language ; 
the letters even of Tiberius ran for some time in her name 
as well as his. There were numerous coins of local cur- 
rency, at Rome and in the provinces, on which her name 
was stamped, sometimes joined with her son’s but oftener 
alone. At her bidding, or by her influence, priesthoods 
were formed and temples rose in all parts of the empire 
to extend the worship of the deified Augustus ; and in- 
scriptions still preserved upon them testify to her pride 
of self-assertion, as well as to the policy with which she 
strove to surround the imperial family with the solemn 
associations of religious awe. To that end „ 

1 . 1 . ^ • 1 • politic 

she also enlisted the fine arts in her service, patronage of 

and found employment for the first sculptors, 

engravers, and painters of the day in multiplying copies 

of the features of the ruling race, and endearing them to 

the imagination of the masses. 

The Senate was not slow to encourage the ambition of 
Augusta. Vote after vote was passed as the members 
tried to outdo each other in their flattery, till they raised her 
even to the foremost place, and proposed to call the Em- 
peror Livius to do her honour. Tiberius, in- Tiberius 
deed, demurred to this ; and before long there showed jea- 

^ , , . , , lousy of the 

were signs clear enough to curious eyes that he honour paid 
was ashamed to feel he owed her all, impatient Augusu. 
of her tutelage, and jealous of her high pretensions. Men 
spoke in meaning whispers to each other, and wits made 
A //. E 



50 


The Earlier Empire, a.d. 14 37 


epigrams on the growing coldness between mother and son. 
They said he vainly strove to keep her in the shade. Old as 
she was, she clung to power and state, and relied on her 
talents and influence to hold her own. The Senate and the 
camp she could not visit, but in all else she claimed to 
rule. As he seemed to shun the eyes of men she came 
forward more in public, won popular favour by her 
courtesies and generous gifts, gathered her crowd of cour- 
tiers round her, conferred at her will the offices of state, 
and tried to overawe the courts of justice when the 
interests of her favourites were at stake. In the circle 
Coolness in intimates we hear of irreverent wits 

their reia- whosc caustic specchcs did not spare the 
Dpeni rupture. Emperor himself ; and once, we read, w^hen 
words ran high between Augusta and her son, 
she took from her bosom old letters of Augustus and 
read sarcastic passages that bore on his faults of manner 
or of temper. This coolness did not lead to open rupture, 
for his old habits of obedience were confirmed enough to 
bear the strain, and he submitted to her claims, though 
She used hei grudgingly and ungraciously enough. 
wUei^on the wliole she uscd her influence wisely, 

whole, and while she ruled, the policy of state was cool 

and wary. She could be stern and resolute enough when 
force seemed needful. She had given orders for the 
^ ^ ^ death of Agrippa Postumus as soon as his 

cou?d be^ ' grandfather had ceased to breathe. She did 
stern, foj. pj^y ^yith her son when he let 

Julia die a wretched death of slow starvation in her 
prison, and took at last his vengeance on her paramour 
for the mockery and outrage of the past. It is likely 
and perhaps quick eye saw the use that 

suggested might be made of the old laws of treason, 
orthe'^ieges which had come down from the Common* 
majestutis.’ wealth. They had been meant to strike at 
men who had by open act brought dishonour or disaster 



A.D. 14-37. 


Tiberius. 


51 


on the state. Sulla was the first to make them cover 
libellous words, and Augustus had, though sparingly, 
enforced them in like cases. The Caesar had already 
stepped into the people’s place and screened his majesty 
against so-called treason ; but when the Caesar had been 
deified, any crime against his person was heightened 
by the sin of sacrilege. In the language of the law 
obedience to the living Emperor soon became confounded 
with the religious worship of the dead, and loyalty 
l>ecame in theory a sort of adoration. Any disrespect 
might carry danger with it. Jesting words against the 
late Emperor might be construed into blasphemy when 
the Emperor had become a god. His likeness must be 
held in honour, and it might be fatal even to beat a slave 
who clung for safety to his statue, or to treat carelessly his 
effigy upon a coin. A few such cases were enough to 
increase enormously the imperial prestigCy and ex- 
tend to the living members of the family some of the 
reverence that was gathering round the dead. But 
though Augusta had few scruples she had no taste for 
needless bloodshed, and while she lived she certainly 
exercised a restraining influence upon her son. 

Another of the Emperor’s family exerted a force of 
like restraint though in a very different way. Germanicus 
was the darling of the legions, and might at Restraining 
any moment be a pretender to the throne. He force ex^cnod 
had calmed his mutinous soldiery, led them of Oeriruini- 
more than once into the heart of Germany, 
visited the battlefield where Varus fell, and brought back 
with him in triumph the captive wife and child of Armi- 
nius, the national hero of the Germans. It might seem 
dangerous to leave him longer at the head who w.-is 
of an army so devoted to their general — from'Str- 
dangerous perhaps to bring him back to rruiny, 
win the hearts of men at Rome. But his presence 



52 The Earlier Empire. a.d. 14-37. 

miglit be useful in the East, for the kingdoms of Parthia 
and Armenia had been torn by civil war and thrown into 
collision by the claims of rival candidates for power, and 
by wars of succession due in part at least to the intrigues 
of Rome. A general of high repute was needed to protect 
the frontier and appease the neighbouring powers, and the 
death of some of the vassal kings of Asia Minor had left 
thrones vacant, and wide lands to be annexed or orga- 
nized. It was resolved to recall Germanicus from his 
post and to dispatch him to the Syrian frontier on this 
^ ^ important mission. On the north there was 

a mission to little to be gained by border warfare, which 
the East. provokcd but could not crush the resistance 
of the German tribes, and there was wisdom in following 
the counsel of Augustus not to aim at further conquests. 
Germanicus might be unwilling to retire ; but the duties 
to which he was transferred were of high dignity and trust. 
Yet men noted with alarm that Silanus, who was linked 
to him by ties of marriage, was recalled from 
appo?mm\mt^ Syria at the time, and the haughty, self-willed 
Cnnsus Piso made governor in his stead. Dark 
vernor of rumoui's Spread abroad that he had been cho* 
sen for the task of watching and of thwarting 
the young prince, and that his wife, Plancina, had been 
schooled in all the petty jealousies and spite of which 
Agrippina was the mark. So far at least all was mere 
suspicion, but there was no doubt that when they went to 
Syria the attitude of Piso was haughty and offensive. He 
made a bold parade of independence, disputed the autho- 
. ^ . rity and cavilled at the words and actions of 

IIisofTensive . • i i i i 

ronduct to Gcmianicus, tampered even with the loyalty of 
Germanicus, soldicrs, anddrove him at last to open feud. 

When Germanicus fell ill soon afterwards Piso showed in- 
decent glee, and though he was on the eve of quitting Syria 
he lingered till further news arrived. He put down by 



4.D. 14-37- 


Tibcrms. 


53 


violence the open rejoicing of the crowd at Antioch when 
cheerful tidings came. Still he waited, and the murmur 
spread that the sickness was his work, and tliat poison and 
witchcraft had been used to gratify his spite and perhaps 
to do the Emperor’s bidding. Germaniciis himself was 
ready to believe the story and to fear the worst, who be- 
The suspicions gained force as he grew weaker, he 
and his last charge on his deathbed to his Poisoned 
friends was to expose his murderer and avenge a.d. uj. 
his death. The sad story was received at Rome with pas- 
sionate sorrow and resentment. His father’s memory, his 
noble qualities and gentle bearing, had endeared him to all 
classes, and men recalled the ominous words that ‘ those 
whom the people love die early.’ One after another their 
favourites had passed away, cut off in the spring-time of 
their youth ; and now the last of them, the best beloved 
perhaps of all, had been sent away from them, they mur- 
mured, to the far East to die from the noxious air of wSyria, 
or it might be from the virulence of Piso s hate, passionate 
Still more outspoken was the grief when the grief .at ^ 
chief mourners reached the shores of Italy, hisdeafhwL 
and passed in sad procession through the 
towns. At the sight of the widowed Agrippina, and the 
children gathered round the funeral urn that held his 
ashes, all classes of society vied with each other in the 
tokens of their sympathy. There was no flattery in such 
signs of mourning, for few believed that Tiberius was 
sorry, and many thought that he was glad at the loss that 
they regretted. Was it grief that kept him popular 
in the palace, or fear lest men should read his suspicions, 
heart ? Was it due respect to his brave nephew to give 
such scant show of funeral honours, and to frown at the 
spontaneous outburst of his people’s sorrow ? Was it 
love of justice or a sense of guilt that made him so slow 
to punish Piso’s crime, so quick to discourage the zeal of 



54 


The Earlier E^npire. a.d. 14 -;, 7. 


his accusers ? They could only murmur and suspect, fo; 

nothing certain could be known. At Piso’s trial there 

was evidence enough of angry words and bitter feelings, 

u » « ^ of acts of insubordination, almost of civil 
but no proof ^ 

of foul play, strife, but no proof that Germanicus was mur- 
dered, still less that Tiberius was privy to the deed. It 
was, indeed, whispered abroad that the accused had evi- 
dence enough to prove that he only did what he was 
bidden ; but if so, he feared to use it, and before the trial 
was over he died by his own hand. 

The popular suspicion against Tiberius was no mere 
after-thought of later days, when Rome had learnt to know 


the darker features of his character. From 
the first they had never loved him, and the 


Reasons. 


The people 
disliked 

from the more they saw the less they liked him. He 
seemed of dark and gloomy temper, with no 
grace or geniality of manner, shunning the pleasures of 
the people, and seldom generous or open- 
handed. He had even an ungracious way of 
doing what was right, and spoiled a favour by his way of 
granting it. There was such reserve and constraint in what 
he said that men thought him a profound dissembler and 
imputed to him crimes he had no thought of. They seemed 
to have divined the cruelty that was still latent, and to have 
detested him before his acts deserved their hate. Even 
in the early years the satires current in the city and the 
epigrams passed from mouth to mouth show us how intense 
was the dislike; and soon we see enough to justify it. 

One of the most alarming features of the times in 
which men traced his influence was the rapid spread of 
The'dcla- professional accusers, of the delatores, of 
the whom we read, indeed, before, but who now 
now^fet became a power in the state. The Roman 
appeared. early times looked to private citizens 

to expose wrong-doing, and to impeach civil or political 



A.D. 14-37. 


Tiberius, 


55 


offenders. Sometimes it was moral indignation, oftener 
it was the bitterness of party feeling, and oftener still the 
passion of ambition, that brought them forward as ac- 
cusers. The great men of the Republic were constantly 
engaged in legal strife. Cato, for example, was put on his 
defence some four-and-forty times, and appeared still 
oftener as accuser. It was commonly the first step in a 
young man’s career to single out a prominent 
member of the rival party, to charge him practice of 
with some political offence, and to prove in menrimdci 
the attack his courage or knowledge of the 
laws. This practice naturally intensified the bitterness 
of party struggles, and often led to family feuds. It took 
to some extent the place of the duelling of modern times, 
and led more than once to a sort of hereditary ^vendetta.’ 
It oftener served the passions of a party than the real 
interests of justice ; and, prized as it was as a safeguard 
and privilege of freedom, fostered license more than 
liberty. Yet, as if this tendency were not strong enough 
already, measures were taken to confirm it. 

More sordid motives were appealed to, and oipiredto ^ 
hopes of money bribes were held out to spur ieai of 
on the accuser’s zeal. These, it may be, 
seemed more needful, as moral sympathies were growing 
stronger and the party passions of the Commonwealth 
were cooling down. Certainly the meaner motives must 
have been most potent in the days of the early Empire, 
y^hen men came forward to enforce the sumptuary 
and marriage laws which were almost universally dis- 
liked. 

We hear little of the delatores as a class under 
Augustus ; but in the days of his successor they became 
almost at once of prominen 
range given to the laws c 
of the crimes that fell wil 



56 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 14 37 


rheir influ- 
ence under 
riberius, 


terror of the penalties that threatened the accused, 
armed the informers with a class of weapons 
which they had not known before. With a 
ruler like Tiberius they became quite a new 
wheel in the political machinery. It suited his reserve 
to keep himself in the background while the objects 
of his fear or his suspicions were attacked, to learn the 
early stages of the trial from men who had no official 
connexion with himself, while the Senate or the law 
courts were responsible for the result, and he could step 
in at last to temper, if he pleased, the rigour of the 
sentence. He did not own them for his instruments, 
refused even to speak to them directly on the subject ; 
but with instinctive shrewdness they interpreted his 
looks, divined his wishes, and acted with eagerness 
upon a word that fell from any confidant whom he 
and increase Seemed to trust. No wonder that their num- 
in numbers, bcrs grew apacc, for it seemed an easy road 
to wealth and honour. Settling even by threes and fours 
upon their victims, they disputed the precedence of the 
attack, for if they were successful the goods of the con- 
demned might be distributed among them ; and when an 
enemy of Caesar fell, quite a shower of official titles was 
rained upon them. They came from all classes alike. 
Some there were of ancient lineage and good old names ; 
some were adventurers from the provinces who had come 
to push their fortunes in the capital, some even of the 
meanest rank who crowded into a profession where a 
ready tongue and impudence seemed the only needful 
stock in trade. For all were trained in early youth to 
speak and plead and hold their own in the keen fence 

Early train- of words. In the days of the Republic all 

to^*sti°r niust learn to speak who would make their 

common, way in public life, and the training of the 

schools remained the same when all besides was changed 



K.T>, 14 37. 


Tiberius. 


5 ? 

around them. The orator’s harangues had been silenced 
in the Forum. No Cicero might hope to sway the crowd 
or guide the Senate, but they disputed still and declaimed 
and laboured at the art of rhetoric as ^ ^ 

oratory were the one end and aim of life. little use in 
When life opened on them in real earnest most careers, 
they soon discovered how slowly honest and unaided 
talent could hope to make its way to fame. The con- 
ditions of the times were changed, and one only way 
was left to copy the great orators of earlier days. They 
could yet win wealth and honour, and make 

, , , , . . - . but useful 

the boldest spirits quail, and be a power in to the infor- 
the state, and gain perhaps the Emperor’s 
favour, by singling out some man of mark, high in office 
or in rank, and furbishing afresh against him the weapons 
drawn from the armoury of the laws of treason. If they 
were not weighted with nice scruples, if they could work 
upon the ruleEs fears or give substance to his vague 
suspicions ; if they were dexterous enough to rake up 
useful scraps of evidence and put their lies into a telling 
form, then they might hope to amass great fortunes 
speedily and to rise to high official rank. Did any wish 
to pay off an old debt of vengeance, or to force a recogni- 
tion from the classes that despised them, or to retrieve a 
shattered fortune and to find a royal road to fame, it 
needed only to swell the ranks of the informers, to choose 
a victim and invent a crime. If no plausible story could 
be found to ruin him, it was always possible to put into 
his mouth some threats against the Emperor’s life, some 
bold lampoon upon his vices, which they found all ready 
to their hand. The annals of the times are i,ecame 
full of tales which show how terrible was the objects of 
power they wielded. Through every social **^‘™'’* 
class and circle the poison of suspicion spread, for every 
friend might prove a traitor and be an informer in dis- 



A.D. 14-37. 


The Earlier Empire, 


guise. It might be perilous to speak about affairs ol 

And caused frankest words of confidence 

widespread might be reported, and be dangerously mis- 
mistrust construed. It might be dangerous to be too 
silent, for fear of being taken for a malcontent. A man^s 
worst enemies might be in his home, for every house was 
full of slaves, who learned or guessed the master^s secrets, 
and whose eyes were always on the watch to divine the 
inmost feelings of his heart. In a few minutes, by a few 
easy words, they could wreak their vengeance for the slights 
of years, gain their freedom even by their master’s death, 
and with it such a slice of what was his as would make 
them rich beyond their wildest dreams. No innocence 
could be quite secure against such foes, for it was as easy 
to invent as to report a crime. No council-chamber was 
so safe but that some traitorous ear could lurk unseen, 
for in one trial it appeared that three senators were hidden 
between the ceiling and the roof to hear the conversation 
of the man whom they accused. There was no 
and danger, j^^nd of life without its dangers. To eschew 
politics was not enough. The poet’s vanity might lure him 
to his ruin if he ventured to compose an elegy upon the 
prince’s son, when the noble subject of his verse was sick, 
not dead. The historian’s life might pay the penalty for 
a few bold words of freedom, as Cremutius Cordus had to 
die for calling the murderers of Caesar the last of the old 
Romans. Philosophy itself might be suspected, for a 
lecture on the ^ whole duty of man ’ might recognise 
another standard than the Emperor’s will and pleasure 
and handle his special faults too freely. There 
there was no was no escape from dangers such as these, 
escape, earlier days men might leave Rome before 

the trial was quite over, and shun the worst rigour of the 
law by self-chosen banishment from home. But the 
Strong arm of the imperial ruler could reach as far as the 



A.n. 14-37. Tiberius. 59 

farthest limits of the empire, and flight seemed scarcely 
possible beyond. One only road of flight lay 
open, and to that many had recourse. When suicide, 
the fatal charges had been laid, men often did not stay 
to brook the ignominy of the trial, or face the informer^s 
torrent of invectives, but had their veins opened in the 
bath, or by poison or the sword ended the life which 
they despaired to save. They hoped to rescue by their 
speedy death some little of their fortune for their children, 
and to secure at least the poor advantage of a decent 
funeral for their bodies. 

It was tlie Emperor’s suspicious temper that increased 
so largely the influence of the delator es ; but there was 
one man who gained his trust, and gained 
it only to abuse it. Lucius ^Elius Sejanus racter of 
had long since won favour by artful insight 
into character and affected zeal and self-devotion. His 
flattery was too subtle to offend, his duplicity so skil- 
ful as to mask completely his own pride and ambition, 
while he fed the watchful jealousy of his master by whis- 
pered doubts of others. His father, a knight of Tuscan 
stock, had been praefect of the imperial guards, ten bat- 
talions of which were quartered in different places round 
the city. When the son was raised to the same rank, his 
first act of note was to induce the Emperor to concentrate 
the guards in one camp near the gates, as the . . 

. _? / , His me in 

permanent garrison of Rome. That done, he power and 
spared no pains to win the goodwill of the 
soldiers, to secure the devotion of the officers, and raise 
his tools to posts of trust. To the real power thus secured, 
the rapidly increasing favour of Tiberius lent visible autho- 
rity. In official language he was sometimes named as 
the partner of the ruler’s labours ; senators and nobles of 
old family courted his patronage with humble words ; 
official titles were bestowed at his discretion, and spies and 



6o 


K.D. 14-37. 


The Earlier Empire. 

informers speedily were proud to take rank in his secret 
service. While ambitious hopes were growing within him 
with the self-confidence of a proud and resolute 
to revenge nature, the passion of revenge came in to de- 
Dmsu- for mature cnem. Drusus, the young 

the insult of son of Tiberius, whom we read of as coarse, 
^ choleric, and cruel, happened in a brawling 

mood to strike Sejanus on the face. The blow was one 
day to be washed out in blood, but for the moment it was 
borne in silence. He made no sign to rouse suspicion, 
but turned to Livilla, the prince’s wife, and plied her with 
his wily words, seconded by winning grace and personal 
Seduced beauty. The weak woman yielded to the 

Livilla, tempter. Flinging away her womanly honour, 

and with it tenderness and scruple, she sacrificed her 
and poisoned ^^sband to her lover. With her help he had 
Drusus, Drusus poisoned, and so removed the heir- 
presumptive to the throne. 

Next came the turn of Agrippina and her children. 
Between the widowed mother and Tiberius a certain 
coolness had grown up already, which it was easy to in- 
crease. Her frank, impetuous, high-souled nature could 
not breathe freely in the palace. Proud of her husband’s 
memory and the promise of her children, and too re- 
liant on the people’s love, she could not stoop to weigh 
her words, to curb her feelings, and school herself to 
be wary and submissive. His dark looks and freezing 
manner stung her often to impatience, and she allowed 
herself to show too clearly the want of sympathy between 
them. The ill-timed warmth of Agrippina’s friends, the 
and widened insinuations of Sejanus, widened the 

the breach breach already made, and each was made to 
Tiberfusand fear the Other and hint at poison or at treason. 
Agrippina, thundcr-clouds had gathered fast, and 

the storm would soon have burst between them, had not 



4.I.. 14 37. 


Tibcrms, 


Augusta stayed his hand and stepped in with milder 
counsels. Jealous as he may have been, the son stiU 
submitted to the mother’s sway. He feared an open rup- 
ture, while he chafed at her interference and restraint. 
Then the schemer thought of parting them. Away from 
Rome and from his mother, Tiberius would and urged 
breathe more freely, and lean more on his ^^vTRome 
trusted servant, and he himself also could and Augusta, 
mature his plans more safely if he were not always 
watched by that suspicious eye. For twelve years the 
Emperor had scarcely left the city ; but he was weary at 
last of moving in the same round of public labours, of 
meeting always the same curious eyes, full as it seemed of 
fear or of mistrust. 

The counsels of Sejanus took root and bore their 
fruit in season. At first Rome only heard that its rulei 
was travelling southward, then that he was Tiberius 
at Capreae, the picturesque island in the bay 
of Naples which had tempted Augustus with a.d. 76 . 
its charms and passed by purchase into his estates. 
Soon, they thought, he would be back again, but time 
went on and still he came not ; and though he talked 
at times of his return, and came twice almost within 
sight, he never set foot within their walls again. 

After three years he heard at Caprere of his mother’s 
death, but he was not present at her funeral, 
long neglected even to give the needful orders, of Augusta 
and set at nought the last wishes of her will. 

Her death removed the only shield of Agrippina and her 
children. One after another their chief adherents had 
been swept away. The old generals that loved 
them had been struck down by the informers ; the fall of 
the relentless jealousy of the Emperor and atfdw"^ 
Sejanus had for years set spies upon them 
to report and exaggerate unguarded words. All the 



62 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 14-^37. 

charges which had been gathered up meantime were at 
once laid before the Senate in a message full of savage 
harshness ; the mother and her two eldest children were 
hurried off to separate prisons, with litters closed, lest the 
memory of Germanicus should stir the people. They 
languished there awhile, then perished miserably by 
sword and famine. 

There was another whom the Emperor had long looked 
at with unfriendly eyes. Asinius Gallus, a marked figure 
The fate of higher circles, had taken to his house 

Asinius the wife whom Tiberius had been forced in- 

Gaiius. deed to put away, yet loved too well to feel 

kindly to the man who took his place. He had been named 
by the last Emperor among the few who might aspire to 
the throne, and was possibly the child the promise of 
whose manhood had been heralded by the fourth Eclogue 
of Vergil. He was certainly forward and outspoken, 
with something of presumption even in his flattery ; he 
had often given offence by hasty words, and above all in 
the early scene of mutual mistrust and fear in the Senate 
House he had tried to force Tiberius to use plain lan- 
guage and drop his hypocritic trifling. He was made to 
pay a hard penalty for his boldness. The Emperor stayed 
his hand for years, allowed him to pay his court and join 
in the debates among the rest, and even summoned him to 
Capreae to his table. But even while he sat there the news 
came that the Senate had condemned him at the bidding 
of their master, and he left the palace for a prison. For 
years he pined in utter loneliness, while the death which 
he would have welcomed as a boon was still denied him. 

Meantime Sejanus ruled at Rome with almost abso- 
lute power. His masters seemingly unbounded trust 
The fTcat made soldiers, senators, informers vie with 
*Sej^us*^at other in submissive service ; his favour 

Rome. was the passport to preferment ; his enmity 

was followed by a charge of treason or a threatening 



A.D. 14-37* Tiberius, 63 

missive from Capreae to the Senate. All classes streamed 
to his ante-chambers with their greetings, and the world 
of Rome flattered, feared, or hated him. The Emperor 
heard all intelligence through him, coloured and garbled 
as he pleased, approved his counsels, re-echoed his suspi- 
cions, and daily resigned more of the burden of rule into 
his hands. There had been no sign of mistrust even 
when he had asked for the hand of Livilla, the widow of 
the murdered Drusus, though consent had been delayed 
and reproof of his ambition hinted. Yet, wary as Sejanus 
was, he could not hide from envious eyes the pride and 
ambition of his heart. He grew haughtier His haughti- 
with the confidence of power, and men whis- 
pered that in moments of self-indulgence he spoke of 
himself as the real autocrat of Rome, and sneered at his 
master as the Monarch of the Isle. But that master's 
eyes at length were opened. His brother's widow, An- 
tonia, long retired from public life, had kept a watchful 
eye on all that passed, and sent a trusty messenger at 
length to warn him. He saw his danger in- Suspicions of 
stantly, felt it with a vividness that seemed 
to paralyse his will and stay his hand. For aroused, 
many months we have the curious picture of the monarch 
of the Roman world brooding, scheming, and conspiring 
against his servant. For months his letters were so worded 
as to keep Sejanus balanced between fear and hope. 
Sometimes he writes as if his health was fail- His dissimu- 
ing, and the throne would soon be vacant, 
sometimes promotes his friend and loads him with ca- 
resses, and then again his strength is suddenly restored 
and he writes fretfully and sternly. The Senate is kept 
also in suspense, but notes that he no more calls the fa- 
vourite his colleague, and that he raises a per- 
sonal enemy to be consul. The bolt falls at last, 

Suddenly there arrives in Rome a certain Macro 

with letters from Capreae for the Senate. He carries the 



64 


The Earlier Emph'e. a.d. 14 37- 


where the 
Emperor’s 
letter 

‘ verbosa et 
grandis 
episiola* is 
read, 


commission in his pocket which makes him the new 
praefect of the guard, and has been told to concert mea- 
sures with Laco, the praefect of the watch. He meets 
Sejanus by the way, alarmed to find that there is no mes- 
sage for himself, and reassures him with the tale that the 
letter brings him the high dignity of tribunician power. 
While Sejanus hurries in triumph to the Senate House, 
Macro shows his commission to the praetorians and sends 
them to their quarters far away, while Laco guards the 
Senate House with his watch. The reading of the Em^ 
peror’s letter then begins. It is long and 
curiously involved in style, deals with many 
subjects, with here and there a slighting word 
against Sejanus, to which, however, he pays 
scant attention, as his thoughts are occupied 
with the signs of favour soon to follow. Suddenly comes 
the unlooked-for close. Two of his nearest intimates are 
denounced for punishment, and he is to be lodged at once 
in prison. Those who sat near had slipped away from 
him meantime ; Laco with his guards is by his side, while 
the Senate rises on all sides and vents in angry cries the 
accumulated hate of years. He is dragged 
off to his dungeon. The people on the way 
greet him with savage jeers, throw down the 
statues raised long since in his honour, and 
the praetorians in their distant quarter make no sign. 
The Senate takes courage to give the order for his death, 
and soon all that is left of him is a name in history to 
point the moral of an unworthy favourite’s rise and fall. 
His death rid Tiberius of his fears, but was fatal to the 
Cruelty of purty who had looked to Sejanus as their 
Tiberius to chief, and possibly had joined him in 

the friends or i i i ... 

piirtisansof treasonable plots against his master. Post 
Sejanus. brought the death-warrants of fresh 

victims. His kinsmen were the first to suffer, then came 


and Sejanus 
is dragged off 
to deatL 
A.D. 31. 



A.D. 14 - 37 - 


Tiberius, 


65 

the turn of friends and tools. All who owed to him their 
advancement, all who had shown him special honour, paid 
the hard penalty of their imprudence. The thirst for 
blood grew fiercer daily, for the wife of Sejanus on her 
death-bed told the story of the poison of which 
Drusus died, and the truth was known at last, the 

Tiberius had hidden his grief when his son Drusus’ 
died, and treated with mocking irony the 
citizens of Ilium who came somewhat late with words of 
condolence, telling them that he was sorry that they too 
had lost a great man named Hector; but the grief he 
had then not shown turned now to thirst for vengeance. 
On any plea that anger or suspicion could dictate fresh 
names were added to the list of the accused, till the 
crowded prisons could hold no more. The praetorians 
whose loyalty had been mistrusted were allowed to show 
how little they had cared for their commander by taking 
wild vengeance on his partisans ; the populace also 
roamed the streets in riotous mobs to prove their tardy 
hatred for his memory. In a passage of the Emperor’s 
memoirs that has come down to us we read the charge 
that the fallen minister had plotted against Agrippina and 
her children. We may compare with this the fact that 
the order for the death of the second son was given after 
the traitor^s fall. He was starved to death in the dungeon 
of the palace, after trying in his agony to gnaw the bed 
on which he lay,' and the note-book of his gaoler gave 
a detailed account of his last words and dying struggles. 

At Caprese also there was no lack of horrors. There 
too the victims came to be tried under his eye, it is said 
to be even tortured, and to glut his thirst for The trials 
bloodshed. He watched their agonies upon 
the rack, and was so busy with that work that Capre®, 
when an old friend came from Rhodes at his own wish, 
he mistook the name of his invited guest and ordered him 
A. H, w 



66 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 14-37. 


too to be tortured like the rest. Some asked to be put 
out of their misery by speedy death, but he refused, say- 
ing that he had not yet forgiven them. Even in trifling 
matters the like severity broke out. A poor fishermar, 
climbed the steep rocks at Capreae to offer him a fine 
lobster; but the Emperor, startled in his walk by his 
unbidden visitor, had his face gashed with its sharp 
claws to teach him more respect for rank. Nor is it only 
and foul Cruelty that stains his name. Sensuality with- 
debauches. out disguise or limit, unnatural lusts too foul 
to be described, debauchery that shrank from no excess, 
these are the charges of the ancient writers that brand 
him with eternal infamy. Over these it may be well to 
drop the veil and hasten onward to the close. 

At length it was seen that his strength was breaking 
His death Up, and the eyes of the little court at 

(a.d. 37X Capreas turned to Caius, the youngest son of 
Agrippina and Germanicus, whom, though with few signs 
of love, he had pointed out as his successor. The 
physician whispered that his life was ebbing, and he 
sank into a swoon that seemed the sleep of death. All 
turned to the living from the dead and saluted him as 
the new Emperor, when they were startled with the news 
hastened closcd eyes were opened and 

p^s^biy^by Tiberius was still alive. But then — so ran 
the young the tale all Rome believed — the praefcct 
Caius. Macro bade the young prince be bold and 

prompt : together they flung a pillow on the old man’s 
head and smothered him like a mad dog as he lay. 

The startling story of his later years is given with like 
features in the pages of three authors, Tacitus, Suetonius, 
and Dion Cassius, and none besides of ancient times de- 
scribe his life or paint his character with any fulness of 
detail. But modem critics have come fonvard to contest 
the verdict of past history, and to demand a new hearing 



Tiberius. 


A u 14 -37. 


67 


of the case. We must stay, therefore, to see what is the 
nature of their plea. 

They remind us that, at the worst, it was only the society 

of Rome that felt the weight of his heavy The pleas of 

hand. Elsewhere, they say, through all the l^ter critics 
^ , ... , . in favour of 

provinces of the vast empire his rule was wise a new esti- 

and wary. His firm hand curbed the license ^amcteJ^o* 
of his agents ; he kept his legions posted on Tiberius, 
the frontiers, but had no wish for further conquests, and 
in dealing with neighbouring powers relied ^ 
on policy rather than on force. The shelter they Tay 
that he offered to the fugitive chiefs of Ger- 
many and the pretenders to the Eastern while the 

, 11 c Empire was 

thrones gave him ^.Iways an excuse for well go- 
diplomacy and intrigues, which distracted 
the forces that were dangerous. Provincial writers like 
Strabo the geographer, Philo the philosopher, and Jose- 
phus the historian, speak of his rule with thankfulness 
and fervour ; and the praises seem well-founded till we 
come to the last years of his life. Then, says 
Suetonius, he sunk into a sloth which neg- true, 

, - 11-1 TT 11 • though with 

lected every public duty. He would not sign somequalifi- 
commissions, nor change the governors once 
appointed, nor fillup the vacancies that death had caused, 
nor give orders to chastise the neighbouring tribes that 
disturbed the border countries with their forays. It is true 
the Empire was so little centralized as yet, and so much 
free life remained in the old institutions of the provinces, 
that distant peoples scarcely suffered from the torpor 
of the central power, and, once relieved from the abuses 
of the old Republic, were well content if they 

were only left alone. Still the degradation gradation of 
^ Rome must 

of Rome, if real, must have reacted on them, have reacted 

for she attracted to the centre the notabilities 

of every land. She sent forth in turn her thought, her 



68 


The Earlier Empire. a..d. 14-37 


The testi- 
mony of 
Valerius 
Maximus 
and Velleius 
Paterculus 
is not worth 
much. 


culture, and her social influence, and the pulsations of her 
moral life were felt in countries far away. The heroism 
of her greatest men raised the tone of the world’s thought, 
and examples of craven fear and meanness surely tended 
to dispirit and degrade it. 

If we return now to the details of his rule at home 
what evidence can his defenders find to stay our judgment? 
They can point to the contemporary praises of Valerius 
Maximus, a literary courtier of the meanest 
type, and to the enthusiastic words in which 
Velleius Paterculus speaks of his old general’s 
virtues. But the terms of the latter do not 
sound like a frank soldier’s language ; the 
style is forced and subtle, and the value of 
his praises of Tiberius may well be questioned when in 
the same pages we find a fulsome flattery of Augustus 
and Sejanus that passes all bounds of belief. We 
may note also that his history ends before the latter 
period of this reign begins. In default of testimony of a 
The marlvs of Stronger kind, attention has been drawn to the 
bias and marks of bias and exaggeration in the story 
i^fe*cora-” commonly received, to the wild rumours wan- 
mon story. tonly Spread against a monarch who had never 
won his people’s love, and lightly credited by writers who 
reflected the prejudices of noble coteries offended by the 
unyielding firmness of his rule. On such evidence it 
has been thought enough to assume that the memoirs 
Theassump- of Agrippina, Nero’s mother, blackened the 
name of Tiberius and had a sinister in- 
fluence on later history ; to imagine a duel 
of life and death between the imperial go- 
vernment and the partisans of the widow and 
children of Germanicus ; to believe, but with- 
out proof, that the chief victims of the times were all con- 
spirators, who paid the just forfeit of their lives ; to point 


tions as to 
the memoirs 
of Agrip- 
pina, and the 
struggle 
between rival 
factions at 
Rome, 



Tiberius. 


A.D. 14-37. 


Nor can we 
set aside the 
stories of the 


to the malignant power of Sejanus and to fancy that the 
real clemency of Tiberius took at last a 
sombre hue in the presence of universal trea- 
chery. Whence this strange mania of dis- 
loyalty can have come is not made clear, nor without any 
how it was that of the twenty trusted senators 
chosen for the privy council only two or three were left 
alive, nor why Drusus, the son of Germanicus, was mur- 
dered when the fall of Sejanus had removed the tempter. 

Nor can the stories of the debauchery at Capreie 
be lightly set aside without disproof. They left a track 
too lurid on the popular imagination, they Korean we 
stamped their impress even in vile words on set 
the language of the times, and gave a fatal debauchery 
impulse to the tendencies of the corrupted a‘Capre». 
art that left the records of its shame among the ruins of 
Pompeii. 

It may seem strange, indeed, as has been urged, that 
a character unstained for many years by gross defects 
should reveal so late in life such darker features. But 
we have no evidence which will enable us to . . 

1 - , - , - Ancient 

rewrite the story of these later years, though writers may 

on some points we have reason to mistrust 

the fairness of the historians whose accounts opinion of 
11 1 1 1 motives 

alone have reached us. They do seem to in some 

have judged too harshly acts and words 
which admit a fair and honourable colour. Their con- 
clusions do not always tally with the facts which they 
bring forward, and seem sometimes inconsistent with 
each other ; the number and details of the criminal trials 
which they describe often fail to justify their charges of 
excessive cruelty in the emperor, and many of their state- 
ments as to his secret feelings and designs must have 
been incapable of proof. It was probably from pru- 
dence and not from mere irresolution that the prince con- 


Their con- 



70 The Earlier Evipire. a.d. 14 - 37 . 

tinned his provincial governors so long in office ; it may 
have been from true policy rather than from jealousy 
that he recalled Gennanicus from useless forays on the 
border lands, from good sense rather than from want of 
spirit that he discouraged all excessive honours to him- 
and reported Self. In these and many like cases Tacitus 
go^silmoo other writers may have given a false 

lightly ; reading of his motives, as they have certainly 
reported without weighing the scandalous gossip that 
blackened the memory of a ruler who discredited his best 
qualities by ungracious manners, and often made his 
virtues seem as odious as his vices. 

But of the natural character of his younger years 
we know little. We see him trained in a school of 
but we know repression and hypocrisy, cowering 

little of his under the gibes and censures of Augustus, 

c^rlict* cn«i* ^ / 

racier, a.s he wavcring between the extremes of hope and 
iTa school tortured by anxiety at Rhodes, drilled 

of ngid^self^ afterwards into an impassive self-restraint, 
dissimuia- till natural gaiety and frankness disappeared. 

When power came at last it found him 
soured by rancour and resentment, haunted by suspicion 
and mistrust, afraid of the Senate and Germanicus, and 
yet ashamed to own his fears ; too keen-eyed to relish 
flattery, yet dreading any show of independence; curbed 
by his mother, and spurred on by Sejanus into ferocity 
inspired by fear ; with an intellectual preference for good 
government, but still with no tenderness or sympathy for 
those w'hom he ruled. Possibly the partisans of Agrip- 
pina troubled his peace with their bold words and sedi- 
tious acts, or even conspired to set her children in his 
place, and drove him to stern measures in his own de- 
fence. At length, when the only man whom he had 
fondly trusted played him false, his old mistrust set- 
tled into a general contempt for other men and for the 



A. I). 14 - 57 - 


Tiberius. 


7t 

restraints of their opinion. These safeguards gone, he 
may perhaps have plunged into the depths of cruelty 
and lust and self-contempt v/hich made Pliny speak of 
him as the gloomiest of men — ‘ tristissimus hominum,’ — 
and led him to confess in his letters to the Senate that 
he was suffering from a long agony of despairing wretch- 
edness. Even from the distant East, we read, came the 
scornful letters in which the King of Parthia poured re- 
proaches on the cruelty and debaucheries of his brother 
Emperor of the West. 


CHAPTER III. 


CALIGULA.— A.D. 37-4I. 


The tidings of the gloomy emperoPs death were heajd 
at Rome with universal joy. The senators and men of 
mark began to breathe more freely after the The general 
reign of terror ; the people who had suffered jeL^ of* 
less, but for whom little had been done in the Tiberius 
way of shows and largess, began to cry about the streets, 
‘ Tiberius to the Tiber ! ' and to talk of flinging his dis- 
honoured body like carrion to the crows. 

All eyes turned with joy to the young Caius. The 
fond regrets with which they thought of Germanicus, his 
father, the memory of Agrippina^s cruel fate, 
and the piteous stories of her murdered chil- accession of 
dren, caused an outburst of general sympathy 
for the last surviving son. In early childhood he had 
been the soldiers^ darling. Carried as a baby to the 



72 


The Earlier Evtpire, a.d. 37-41. 


camp upon the Rhine, he had been dressed in mimic 
named Cali- Called by the familiar name of 

gulaby the Cali^ila, from the tiny boots he wore like the 
legionaries, legionaries around him. The mutinous troops 
who were deaf to the generaPs appeal were shamed 
into submission when they saw their little nursling 
carried for safety from their camp. For some years 
little had been known of him. After Agrippina’s fall he 
had been brought up in seclusion by his grandmother 
Antonia, and thence summoned to Capreae by the old 
Emperor while still a youth. He showed at that time a 
who had marked power of self-restraint, betrayed no 
Capre® with resentments or regrets, and baffled the spies 
Tiberius, who were set to report his words. Yet Tibe- 
rius, who watched him narrowly, is said to have discerned 
the latent passions that were to break out one day in the 
license of absolute power; but still he advanced him to the 
rank of the pontificate, allowed him to be thought his pro- 
bable successor, and named him in his will as co-heir with 
the young Tiberius, his grandchild. Besides 
this the praefect Macro was secretly won over 
to secure the support of the praetorian troops, 
and together they waited for and perhaps 
hastened the death of the old man. No such 
support, indeed, seemed needed, for at Rome there was a 
popular movement in his favour. The people rushed into 
the Senate House with acclamations when he came, they 
showered endearing names upon him, the claims of his 
, , . young cousin were ignored, and at the age ot 

whose claims, *' , 

however, twcnty-four Caligula became the sole mo- 
were Ignored, of Roman world. The young sove- 

reign was welcomed with a general outburst of excitement. 
Not only in the city which for long years had not seen its 
ruler, but even in the provinces, there were signs every- 
where of widespread joy. In three months more than one 


.ind wa.s 
named in his 
will as co- 
heir with the 
younggrand- 
child, 



\.D. 37-41. 


73 


Caligula, 

hundred and sixty thousand victims fell in thanksgiving 
upon the altars. The young sovereign could scarcely be 
unmoved amid the general gladness. Senate, ^snerai 
soldiers, people, all were lavish in their ho- gladness, 
nours ; the treasury was full of the hoards that had been 
gathering there for years ; there was nothing yet to cross 
his will or cloud his joy. His first acts were in unison 
with the glad tone of public feeling, and did much to in- 
crease it. The exiles were brought back return of the 
from the lonely islands where they pined ; the wiles, 
works of the bold writers, Labienus and the like, were 
allowed once more to pass from hand to hand; the ardour 

of the informers cooled, and a deaf ear was ^ . 

, . , , . , , and Signs of 

turned to warning letters ; the independence brighter 

of the magistrates was re-asserted, and the 
accounts of the imperial budget fully published. Some 
show was even made awhile of restoring the elections 
to the popular vote, while a round of civic spectacles 
was arranged upon a scale of long-disused magnificence. 

The bright hopes thus raised were all shortlived. 
The extravagant popularity which had greeted him at 
first, the dizzy sense of undisputed power, 
were enough to turn a stronger head. His pcror's popu- 
nervous system had always been weak. 

Epileptic from his boyhood, he suffered also ^owcr turned 
from constant sleeplessness, and even when 
he slept his rest was broken with wild dreams. His 
health gave way soon after his accession ; and the anxiety 
on all sides was so intense, the prayers offered for his 
recovery so excessive, that they seemed to have finally 
isturbed tlie balance of his reason. Henceforth his life 
is one strange medley of grandiose aims and incoherent 
fancies, relieved at times by lucid intervals of acute and 
mocking insight, but rendered horrible by a fiend's 
cruelty and a satyr’s lust. In a short time Rome was 



A.n. 37-41. 


74 


The Earlier Empire. 


startled by the news that its young Emperor claimed 
to be a god already. It was not enough for 
divine^ him to wait to be canonized like others after 

honours. death. He towered already above the kings 

of the earth ; the one thing wanting was to enjoy divine 
honours while he lived. To this end temples must rise 
at once to do him honour ; priesthoods be established 
for his service ; countless statues of the gods be brought 
from Greece and take in exchange the likeness of his 
head for their own. The palace was extended to the 
Forum, and the valley spanned with stately arches, that 
the shrine of Castor and Pollux might serve as a sort of 
vestibule to his own house, and that he might take his 
seat as by right between the heavenly brothers and be the 
object of admiring worship. 

From a god something more is looked for than the 
works of man, and so he was always dreaming of great 
schemes. He threw a bridge across from 
Baiae to Puteoli, upwards of three miles in 
length, and marched along it in state to 
furnish a two days^ wonder to the world. He thought of 
building a city upon the highest Alps; with greater 
wisdom he wished to cut a channel through the Corin- 
thian isthmus, and sent even to take the measurements 
needed for the work. 

The heathen poets have often sung of the envy and 
jealousy of heaven ; and the Emperor for a like cause 
could brook no rival. His young cousin 
no rival d iberuis must die to expiate the crime of 

greatness, being oncc piit upon a level with him; his 

falher-in-law, Silanus, and his grandmother, Antonia, 
paid the forfeit of their lives for having formed too low an 
estimate of his majesty. Indeed, any eminence might be 
dangerous near him. Bald himself, he could not pass a 


Planned 

great 

schemes. 



A. I). 37 - 41 . Caligiila^ 75 

fine head of hair without the wish and sometimes too the 
order that it should be shaved quite bare. He prided 
himself upon his eloquence, and two men nearly suffered 
for the reputation of their style. The first was Seneca, 
then much in vogue, who was saved only by asin the case 
a friend’s suggestion that he was too far gone of Seneca 
in a decline to live. The other, Domitius Afer, was 
a brilliant orator and notable informer. In vain had 
he foreseen his danger and tried to disarm andDomi- 
jealousy by flattering words. He set up a tins Afer. 
statue to the Emperor to note the fact that he was 
consul a second time at the age of twenty-seven; but this 
was taken ill, as a reflexion on the monarch’s youth and 
unconstitutional procedure. Cains, who prided himself 
on his fine style, came one day to the Senate with a 
long speech ready-prepared against him. Afer was too 
wary to reply, but falling to the ground as if thunder- 
struck at eloquence so marvellous, only culled from 
memory the choicest passages of what he heard with 
comments on their beauties, saying that he feared the 
orator more than the master of the legions. The Em- 
peror, delighted at praises from so good a judge, looked 
on him henceforth with favour. His spleen was moved 
not only by living worth but even by fhe 
glory of the dead. He threw down the cv^l?the* 
statues of the famous men that graced the 
Campus Martius. He thought of sweeping from the pub- 
lic libraries the works of Vergil and Livy, but contented 
himself with harshly criticising them. The titles even 
that called up the memory of illustrious deeds provoked 
his umbrage; the old families must put aside the sur- 
names of the Republic, and the Pompeian race drop the 
dangerous epithet of ‘ Great’ 

The gods, it seemed, were above moral laws, for the 



76 The Earlier Empire. a . d . 37-4** 

old fables told of their amours without disguise or 
Thought shame. Caius would be like Jupiter in this: 
rai^iLove ij^dulge at once each roving fancy and 
moral laws, change his wives from day to day. Invited 
at one time to a noble Roman’s marriage feast, he 
stopped the rite and himself claimed the bride, boasting 
that he acted like Augustus and the Romulus of old 
time. His lewdness spared no rank nor ties of blood, 
but of all he loved Cassonia best, who was famous only 
for her wantonness. He dressed her like an Amazon and 
made her ride to the reviews; and when she bore a child 
he recognised it for his own by the ferocity with which 
the infant seemed to scratch and claw everything she 
saw. 

The oracles of old, from which men tried to learn 
the will of heaven, were couched often in dark mys- 
affected terious terms, and in this spirit he delighted 
the*auaent^^ to perplex and to alarm. He summoned the 
oracles, senators from their beds at the dead of night, 
frightened them with strange sounds about them in the 
palace, then sung to them awhile and let them go. 
When the people clamoured for a legal tariff of the new 
tolls and dues, he had one written out, but in characters 
so small and so high-posted that no eyes could read it. 
His caprices often took a darker colour. He heard that 
^ ^ ^ ^ when he was once sick rash men had vowed 
Lwiid^ ^ to give their lives or face the gladiators if 
caprices. grew better, and with grim humour he 

obliged them to prove their loyalty, even to the death. 

We may see by the description of an eye-witness how 
great was the terror caused by these fitful moods of fero- 
city and folly. At Alexandria the Emperor’s claims to 
deity had been regarded as impious by the Jews, but 
'readily acquiesced in by the Greeks, who caught eagerly 
at any plea to persecute their hated rivals, and wreak the 



A.D. 37-41. 


77 


Caligula. 

grudge of a long-standing feud. The synagogues were 
profaned with statues, the Jewish homes were pillaged 
without mercy, and complaints of disloyalty forwarded to 
Rome. The sufferers on their side sent an embassy to 
plead their cause, and at its head the learned Philo, who 
has left us an account to tell us how they fared. They 
were not received in state, in the presence of grave coun- 
sellors, but after long delay the two deputations of the 
Alexandrians and Jews were allowed to wait upon the 
Emperor while he was looking at some country houses 
near the bay of Naples. The Jews came bowing to the 
ground before him, but despaired when they saw the look 
of sarcasm on his face, and were accosted with the words, 
' So you are the impious wretches who will not have me 
for a god, but worship one whose name you dare not 
mention,' and to their horror he pronounced the awful 
name. Their enemies, overjoyed at this rebuff, showed 
their glee with words and looks of insult, and their spokes- 
man charged the Jews with wanton indifference to the 
Emperor's health and safety. ^ Not so. Lord Caius,' 
they protested loudly. Tor thrice we have sacrificed whole 
hecatombs in thy behalf,' ^ Maybe,' was the reply, ‘ but 
ye sacrificed for me, and not to me.' This second speech 
completed their dismay, and left them all aghast with fear. 
But almost as he spoke, he scampered off, and went hurry- 
ing through the house, prying all about the rooms upstairs 
and down, cavilling at what he saw, and giving orders on 
his way, while the poor Jews had to follow in his train 
from place to place, amid the mockery and ribald jests of 
those about them. At length, after some direction given, 
he turned and said in the same breath to them, ^ Why do 
you not eat pork ? ' They tried to answer calmly that 
national customs often varied: some people, for example, 
would not touch the flesh of lambs. ‘ Quite right, too,' 
be said, * for it is poor tasteless stuff.' Then the insults 



A.D. 37-41. 


78 The Earlier Empire. 

and the gibes went on again. Presently he asked a ques- 
tion about their claims to civil status, but cut them short 
in the long answer which they gave him, and set off at a 
run into the central hall, to have some blinds of transpa- 
rent stone drawn up against the sun. He came back in a 
quieter mood, and asked what they had to say, but without 
waiting for the answer hurried off again to look at some 
paintings in a room close by. ' At last,^ says Philo, ‘ God 
in his mercy to us softened his hard heart, and he let us 
go alive, saying as he sent us off, After all, they are to 
be pitied more than blamed, poor fools, who cannot 
believe I am a god.^^ ' 

His devices to refill the treasury, which his extra 
vagance had emptied, showed no lack of original re 
source, though his plans were not quite after the rules 
His devices of financial science. He put up to auction 
exh^st^d ^ heirlooms of the past that had been 
coffers. stored in the imperial household, took an 
active part even in the sale, pointed out the rare old pieces 
with all the relish of a connoisseur, and gave the family 
pedigree of each. He made his courtiers push the prices 
up ; and when one of them was sleepy he took each mo- 
tion of the nodding head for a higher bid, and had a few 
gladiators knocked down to him at the cost of millions. 
When the news came of his daughter’s birth he publicly 
bemoaned the costly burdens of paternity, and asked his 
loyal subjects for theii doles to help him rear and portion 
the princess. He stood even at the entrance of his house 
on New Yearns Day to receive with his own hands the pre- 
sents showered on him by the crowd as they came to court. 
Oftentimes he did not stay to devise such far-fetched 
Resorted to measures, but simply marked down wealthy 
confiscation, men for confiscation, betook himself as far as 
Gaul in quest of plunder, and filled his coffers at the ex- 
pense of the provincials. Even without such poor excuse 



A.D. 37-41* Caligula, 79 

he showed meantime a cruelty that seemed like the mere 
wantonness of a distempered fancy, as when he invited 
men to see him open a new bridge in state, and Morbid 
had the machinery contrived to fling crowds 
into the water; or when he laughed as he sal between the 
consuls and told them that a single word from him would 
make their heads roll off their necks ; or when, to give his 
guests more zest for what they ate, he had the executioner 
ushered in to do his work before their eyes. 

One fiercer taste he seemed to lack — the love of war. 
But, suddenly reminded that recruits were wanted to make 
up the ranks of his Batavian body-guard, he 
took a fancy to a campaign in Germany, per- paign in 
haps in memory of his father^s name. Pre- Germany, 
parations were made on a grand scale, and he started for 
the seat of war, hurrying sometimes in such hot haste 
that his guards could scarcely keep beside him, and then 
again, lolling in lordly ease, called out the people from the 
country towns to sweep and water all the roads. As soon 
as he had reached the camp he made a great parade of 
the discipline of earlier days, degraded general officers 
who w'ere late in coming with their troops, and dismissed 
centurions from the service on trifling grounds or none at 
all. Little came of all this show. A princely refugee 
from Britain asked for shelter. The Rhine was crossed, 
a parody of a night attack w^as acted out, and imposing 
letters were written to the Senate to describe the submis- 
sion of the Britons and the terror of the Germans. Then 
he hurried with his legions to the ocean, wdth all the 
pomp and circumstance of war, while none could guess 
the meaning of the march. At last when they could go 
no further he bade his soldiers pick up the Ludicrout 
shells that lay upon the shore and carry home 
their trophies as if to show in strange burlesque the 
vanity of schemes of conquest. Before he left the camp, 



8o 


The Earlier Empire. a . d . 37-4*. 

however, the wild fancy seized him to avenge the insult 
offered to his majesty in childhood, and he resolved to 
decimate the legions that had mutinied long years before. 
He had them even drawn up in close order and unarmed 
before him, but they suspected danger and confronted 
him so boldly that he feared to give the word and slunk 
away to Rome. On his return he seemed ashamed to 
celebrate the triumph for which he had made costly pre- 
parations, forbade the Senate to vote him any honours, 
but complained of them bitterly when they obeyed. 

Still his morbid fancy could not rest, and wild projects 
flitted through his brain. He would degrade Rome from 
her place among the cities and make Alex- 
drearna of andria, or even his birthplace, Antium, the 

massacre. capital of the world. But first he medita- 

ted a crowning exploit to usher in the change with fit- 
ting pomp. It was nothing less than the massacre of all 
the citizens of mark. He kept two note-books, which 
he called his ‘ sword ^ and ^ dagger,’ and in them were the 
names of all the senators and knights whom he doomed 
to death. But the cup was full already, and his time was 
come, though he had only had three years of power to 
abuse. He had often outraged with mocking and foul 
words the patience of Cassius Chcerea, a tribune of the 
guard. At last Choerea could bear no more, and after 
sounding other officers of rank, who had been suspected 
of conspiracy already, and who knew their lives to be in 
danger, he resolved to strike at once. They took the 
Emperor unawares in a narrow passage at the theatre, 
thrust him through and through with hasty blows, and 
left him pierced with thirty wounds upon the floor. 



A,D. 41-54. 


Claudius. 


81 


CHAPTER IV. 

CLAUDIUS.— A.D. 41-54. 

Few credited at first the tidings of the death of Caius ; 
many thought the story was only spread by him in some 
mad freak to test their feelings, and so they hesita 
feared to show either joy or grief. When at of the 
last they found that it was true, and that Cae- the murder* 
sonia and his child were also murdered, they 
noted in their gossip that all the Ctesars who bore the 
name of Caius had died a violent death, and then they 
waited quietly to see what the Senate and the soldiers 
thought of doing. The Senate met at once in the 
Capitol, where the consuls summoned to their guard the 
cohorts of the watch. There, with the memorials of 
the past, the tokens of ancient freedom, round them, they 
could take counsel with becoming calmness and dignity. 
The Emperor was dead, and there seemed no claimant 
with a title to the throne. Should they venture to elect 
a sovereign, regardless of the warnings of the past, or 
should they set up a commonwealth once more, and 
breathe fresh life into the shadowy forms about them ? 
The discussion lasted all that day, and the lasted till 
night passed without a final vote. But it was 
all idle talk, for the praetorians meanwhile had made theii 
choice. The tidings of the Emperors death soon reached 
the camp, and drew the soldiers to the city. Too 
late to defend or even to avenge their sovereign, they 
dispersed in quest of booty, and roamed But the sol- 
through the palace at their will. One of the djers meaa 

, , -111 r time had 

plunderers passing by the alcove of a room found 
espied the feet of some one hidden behind the 
half-closed curtains. Curious to see who it might be, he 

A.n. G 



82 


A.D. 41-^4- 


7 he Earlier Empire, 

dragged him out, and recognised the face of Gaudius, 
the late Eniperor^s uncle. He showed him to his com- 
rades who were near, and, possibly in jest, they saluted 
carried him ^im as their new prince, raised him at once 
to the camp, ^pon their shoulders, and carried him in 
triumph to the camp. The citizens who saw him carried 
by marked his piteous look of terror, and thought the 
poor wretch was carried to his doom. The Senate heard 
that he was in the camp, but only sent to bid him take his 
place among them, and heard seemingly without concern 
that he was there detained by force. But the next day 
found them in different mood. The populace had been 
clamouring to have a monarch, the praetorians had sworn 

and saluted to their new-found emperor, the 

him Em- city guards had slipped away, and the Senate, 
peror. divided and disheartened, had no course left 

them but submission. 

Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus, the son of 
Drusus, grandson of Livia Augusta, suffered in early 
years from lingering diseases which left him 
weak both in body and in mind. The Romans 
commonly had little tenderness for sickly 
children. Antonia and his mother even spoke 
of him as a monster, as a thing which nature 
had roughhewn but never finished ; while his 
grandmother would not deign to speak to him except by 
messenger or letter. Though brought up in the palace he 
was little cared for, was left to the tender mercies of a 
muleteer, of whose rough usage he spoke bitterly in after- 
life, and even when he came to manhood was not al- 
lowed to show himself in public life or hope for any ot 
the offices of state. We may still read the letters written 
by Augustus to his wife, in which he speaks of him as 
loo imbecile for any public functions, too awkward and 
nngainly to take a prominent place even in the circus at 


In early life 
he had been 
w^k in 
mind and 
body, and 
had been 
despised or 
neglected. 



A.D. 41-54. 


Claudms. 


83 


and Cains, 


the show. The only honour which he gave him was a 
place in the priesthood of the augurs, and at his death he 
left him a very paltry legacy. Nor did Tibe- He had sorry 
rius think more highly of him. He gave him 
only the poor grace of consular ornaments ; Tiberius 
and when he asked to have the consulship itself his uncle 
took no further notice than to send him a few gold pieces 
to buy good cheer with in the holidays. His 
nephew Caius made him consul, but encour- 
aged the rough jests with which his courtiers bantered 
him. If he came late among the guests at dinner they 
shifted their seats and shouldered him away till he was 
tired of looking for an empty place ; if he fell asleep, as 
was his wont, they plastered up his mouth with olives, or 
put shoes upon his hands, that he might rub his eyes with 
them when he woke. He was sent by the Senate into 
Germany to congratulate the Emperor on his supposed 
successes ; but Caius took it ill, and thought the choice 
of him was such a slight that he had the deputation flung 
into the river. Ever after he was the very last to be 
asked in the Senate for his vote, and when he was allowed 
to be one of the new priests the office was saddled with 
such heavy fees that his household goods had to be put 
up to auction to defray them. After such 
treatment from his kinsmen it was no wonder in coarse ^ 
that he sunk into coarse and vulgar ways, in- ' 

dulged his natural liking for low company, ate largely and 
drank hardly, and turned to dice for his amusement. Yet 
he had also tastes of a much higher order, kept 
Greeks of literary culture round him, studied 
hard and with real interest, and at the advice 
of the historian Livy took to writing history 
himself. His first choice of subject was am- 
bitious, for he tried to deal with the troubled 
times that followed Julius Caesar^s death; but he was soon 


but he had 
also literary 
tastes. 


and took to 

writing 

history. 



84 


The Ear lief Empire. a.d. 4i-S4* 


warned to leave so dangerous a theme. He wrote also 
largely on the history of Etruria and Carthage, and later 
authors often used the materials collected by or for him. 
Of the latter of the two works we read that a courtly 
club was formed at Alexandria to read it regularl) 
through aloud from year to year. 

Such was the man who in his fiftieth year was raised 
to the Empire by a soldier’s freak, to rule in name but to 
As Emperor puppet of his wives and freed- 

he was ruled men. These were the real governors of the 
and^freed-^^ world, and their intrigues and rivalries and 
lust and greed have left their hateful stamp 
upon his reign. 

The freedmen had for a long time played an important 
part in the domestic life of Rome ; for the household 
slaves that were so numerous at this time in every family 
llic domes- ample means could look commonly for 
tic^position^ freedom after some years of faithful service, 
men of ' though their old master still had legal claims 
Rome, upon them, and custom and old associations 

bound them to their patron and his children. They 
haunted the houses of the wealthy, filled all the offices of 
trust, and ministered to their business and pleasures. 
Among them there were many men of refinement and 
high culture, natives of Greece and Asia, at least as well 
educated as their masters, and useful to them in a hun- 
dred ways as stewards, secretaries, physicians, poets, con- 
fidants and friends. The Emperor’s household was or- 
ganised like that of any noble. Here, too, there were 
slaves for menial work, and freedmen for the 

and m the , - , 

imperial posts of trust. The imperial position was too 
household. ill-defined, the temper of the people 

too republican as yet for men of high social rank and 
dignity to be in personal attendance in the palace ; offices 
like those of high steward, chamberlain, great seal, and 



A.D. 4J-54- 


Claudius. 


85 

treasurer to the monarch had the stigma of slavery still 
branded on them, and were not such as noblemen could 
covet. But these were already posts of high importance, 
and much of the business of state was already in the 
freedmen^s hands. For by the side of the Senate and the 
old curule officers of the Republic, the Empire had set up, 
both in the city and the provinces, a new system of ad- 
ministrative machinery, of which the Emperor was the 
centre and mainspring. To issue instructions, check ac- 
counts, receive reports, and keep tlie needful registers 
became a daily increasing labour, and many skilful ser- 
vants soon were needed to be in constant at- 
tendance in the palace. The funeral inscrip- officcrSied 
tions of the time show that the official titles 
in the imperial household were becoming rapidly more 
numerous as the functions were more and more subdi- 
vided. When the ruler was strong and self-contained, his 
servants took their proper places as valets~de<hambre^ 
ushers, and clerks, while a privileged few were confiden- 
tial agents and advisers. When he was inexperienced or 
weak, they took the reins out of his hands, and shamefully 
abused their power. Much too low in rank to have a 
political career before them, they were not weighted with 
the responsibilities of power, and could not act like the 
cabinet ministers of modern Europe. The theory of the 
constitution quite ignored them, and they were only crea- 
tures of the Emperor, who was not the fountain of honour, 
like later kings, and could not make them noble if he 
would. 

As high ambitions were denied them, and they could 
not openly assert their talents, they fell back commonly 
on lower aims and meaner arts. They lied iordid 
and intrigued and flattered to push their way ambition and 
to higher place ; they used their power to 
gratify a greedy avarice or sensual lust. Wealth was their 



86 


The Earlier Empire. a . d . 41-54- 

first and chief desire, and, their master^s confidence once 
gained, riches flowed in upon them from all sides. To get 
easy access to the sovereign's ear was a privilege which all 
were glad to buy. The suitors who came to ask a favour, 
a post of profit or of honour ; the litigants who feared for 
the goodness of their cause and wished to have a friend at 
court ; vassal princes eager to stand well in the Emperor^s 
graces ; town councillors longing for some special boon or 
^ for relief from costly burdens ; provincials of 

rousoppoT- every class and country ready to buy at any 
tunities substantial gift of Roman franchise. 

Hundreds such as these all sought the favourite in the 
antechamber, and schemed and trafficked for his help. 
There was no time to be lost, indeed, for a monarches 
favour is an unstable thing, and shrewd adventurers like 
themselves were ever plotting to displace them. At any 
moment they might be disgraced, so they grasped every 
of gaining chance that brought them gain and speedily 

wealth. amassed colossal fortunes. Men told a story 
at the time with glee that when Claudius complained of 
scanty means a bystander remarked that he would soon 
be rich enough if two of his favourite freedmen would 
admit him into partnership. 

Now for the first time the personal attendants take 
a prominent place in public thought, and history is 
forced to note their names and chronicle their doings, 
and the story of their influence passes from the scanda- 
lous gossip of the palace to the pages of the gravest 
writers. In the days of his obscurity they had shared 
the meaner fortunes of their master, enlivened his dul- 
ness by their wit, and catered for his literary tastes. They 
had provided theories of style and learning and research, 
though they could not give him sense to use them, and now 
they were doubtless eager to help their patron to make 
history, not to write it. Greedily they followed him to the 
palace, and swooped upon the Empire as their prey. 



4.D. 41-54* Claudius, 87 

Two of his old companions towered above all the 
rest, Pallas and Narcissus. Tlie former had 
been with Claudius from childhood, and filled 
the place of keeper of the privy purse, or steward of the 
imperial accounts. In such a post, with such a master it, 
was easy for him to enrich himself, and he did not neglect 
his opportunities. But his pride was even more notable 
than his wealth. He would not deign to speak even to 
his slaves, but gave them his commands by gestures, or 
if that was not enough by written orders. His arrogance 
did not even spare the nobles and the Senate, but they 
well deserved such treatment by their servile meanness. 
The younger Pliny tells us some years afterwards how 
it moved his spleen to find in the official documents that 
the Senate had passed a vote of thanks to Pallas and a 
large money grant, and that he had declined the gift and 
said he would be content with modest poverty, if only he 
could be still of dutiful service to his lord. A modest 
poverty of many millions ! 

Narcissus was the EmperoPs secretary, and as such 
familiar alike with state secrets and with his mastePs per- 
sonal concerns. He was always at his side, 
to jog his memory and guide his judgment; in 
the Senate, at the law courts, in cabinet council, at the 
festive board, nothing could be done without his know- 
ledge ; in most events of moment his influence may be 
traced. Men chafed, no doubt, at the presumption of the 
upstart, and told with malicious glee of the retort made by 
the freedman of the conspirator Camillus, who, when ex- 
amined in the council-chamber by Narcissus and asked 
what he would have done himself if his master had risen 
to the throne, answered, ‘ I should have known my place, 
and held my tongue behind his chair.' They heard with 
pleasure too that when he went on a mission to the muti- 
nous soldiery in Britain, and tried to harangue them from 
rheir general’s tribune, they would not even listen to him 



88 


The Earlier Empire, a.d. 41-54. 


Polybius. 


but drowned his voice with the songs of the Saturnalia, the 
festive time at Rome, when the slaves kept holiday and 
took their masters’ places. But at Rome none dared to 
be so bold, though his influence at court stirred the 
jealousy of many, who whispered to each other that it 
was no wonder he grew rich so fast when he made so 
much by peculation out of the great works which he 
prompted Claudius to undertake, and one of which at 
least, the outlet for the Lucrine Lake, caused almost a 
public scandal by its failure. 

After them came Polybius, whose literary skill had 
often served his patron in good stead and gave him con- 
stant access to his ear. No sinister motives 
can be traced to him ; at worst we hear that 
he was vain, and thought himself on a level with the best, 
and liked to take the air with a consul at each side. He 
had cool impudence enough, we read; for in the theatre, 
when the people pointed at him as they heard a line 
about a ‘beggar on horseback’ who was hard to brook, 
he quoted at once another line from the same poet of 
the ‘ kings that had risen from a low estate.’ 

Callistus lent to the new comers in the palace his 
long experience of the habits of a court He had 
served under the last ruler, could suit his 
ways to please a new master so unlike the 
old, and soon took a high place among the ruling clique 
by his tact and knowledge of the world of Rome. Felix, 
too, whom we read of in the story of St. Paul, 
gained, possibly through his brother Pallas, 
the post of governor of Judea, but must have had rare qua- 
lities to marry, as Suetonius tells us, three queens in suc- 
cession. Posides was the soldier of the party. 
Hismilitary powers, shown in the sixteen days 
campaign of Claudius in Britain, raised him above other 
generals in his master’s eyes, like his stately buildings 


Callistus. 


Felix. 


Posides. 



A.D. 4I-54- 


Claudius, 


89 

which Juvenal mentions as outtopping the Capitol. Th.eie 
is no need to carry on the list. These are only tlie most 
favoured of the party, the best endowed with natural gifts, 
the most trusted confidants of Caisar. 

The first care of the new government was to reassure 
the public mind. Choerea and his accom- 
plices must die, indeed ; for the murder of an 
Emperor was a fatal thing to overlook, and the public 
they were said to have threatened the life of 
Claudius himself. For all besides there was a general 
amnesty. Marked deference was shown by the new ruler 
to the Senate, and the bold words latterly 

, , . , . , _ ' and to con- 

spoken by its members were unnoticed. Few ciliateall 
honours were accepted in his own name, ‘^*^*®®* 
while the statues of Caius were withdrawn from public 
places, his acts expunged from all official registers, and 
his claims to divine honours ignored, as those of Tibe- 
rius had been before. The people were kept in good 
humour by the public shows and merrymakings, as the 
soldiers had been by the promise of fifteen hundred ses- 
terces a man ; and so the new reign began amid signs of 
general contentment. 

The next care of the little clique was to keep their 
master in good humour, to flatter his vanities and 
gratify his tastes, while they played upon his Claudius 
weakness and governed in his name. This 
they did for years with rare success, thanks to hisfrecd- 
their intimate knowledge of his character and * 
to the harmony that prevailed among themselves. He 
had all the coarse Roman’s love for public games, was 
never weary of seeing gladiators fight ; so they amused with 
helped him to indulge his tastes and make spectacles 
merry with the populace of Rome. As the common round 
of spectacles was not enough, new shows must be lavishly 
provided. From the early morning till the entertainment 



90 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 41-54* 

closed he was always in his seat, eager to see the cages ol 
the wild beasts opened and to lose nothing of the bloody 
sport. The spectators could always see him, with his 
wagging head and the broad grin upon his slobbering 
mouth, could hear him often crack his poor jokes on what 
went on, sometimes noted with amusement how he hurried 
with his staggering legs across the arena to coax or force 
the reluctant gladiators to resume their deadly work. 
They noted also that he had the statue of Augustus first 
veiled and then removed from the scene of bloodshed, 
as if the cruel sport that amused the living must offend 
the saintly dead. 

He was fond also of good cheer, so fond of it that 
he sometimes lost sight of his dignity. One day as 
and good l^e judgment-seat he smelt the 

cheer. savour of a burnt offering in a temple close 

at hand, and breaking up the court in haste, he hurried to 
take his seat at dinner with the priests. At another time, 
in the Senate, when the discussion turned on licensing the 
public-houses, he gravely spoke about the merits of the 
different wine-shops where he had been treated in old 
days. So feasting was the order of the day ; great ban- 
quets followed one upon the other, and hundreds of guests 
were bidden to his table, at which few ate or drank so 
freely or so coarsely as himseli. 

But he had more royal tastes than these, for he aspired 
to be a sort of Solomon upon the seat of justice. As 
His love for "i^gistrate or as assessor by the curule chair 
judicial or in the Senate, when grave cases were de- 

work, bated, he would sit for hours listening to the 

pleaders or examining the witnesses, sometimes showing 
equity and insight, sometimes so frivolous and childish 
in his comments, that litigants and lawyers lost their 
patience altogether. 

As the father of the people, it seemed one of his 



jLt). 41-54. Claudius. 91 

first cares to find his children bread, and no little time and 
thought were spent by him or by his agents in 
seeing that the granaries were filled and the wxjvisioning 
markets well supplied. Yet the poor were not 
always grateful, for once when prices rose they crowded in 
upon him in the Forum and pelted him with hard words 
and crusts of bread, till he was glad to slink not always 
out by a back door to his palace. F or his was 
certainly the familiarity that breeds contempt ; people, 
his presence, speech, and character were too ungainly 
and undignified to impose respect ; and even in his pro- 
clamations his advisers let him air his folly to the 
world. Sometimes he spoke in them about Wantofdig- 
his personal foibles ; confessed that he had a 
hasty temper, but that it soon passed away ; tions. 
and said that in years gone by he had acted like a simple- 
ton to disarm the jealousy of Caius, Then again he put 
out public edicts as full of household cures and recipes as 
the talk of any village gossip. 

He had little taste for military exploits ; yet once it 
was thought prudent to excite his martial ardour, that 
he might have the pleasure of a real triumph, a campaign 
like the commanders of old days. At the 
crisis of a campaign in Britain, when the 
preparations had been made for victory, the general 
sent to summon Claudius to the seat of war. All had 
been done to make the journey pleasant, the carriage 
even had been specially arranged to make it easy for 
him to while away the time by the games of dice which 
be loved so well; and though the waves and winds were 
not so complaisant or so regardful of his comforts, he 
reached at last the distant island, in time to receive the 
submission of the native princes and to be hailed as 
Emperor on tlie battlefield. 

Meanwhile the freedmen reaped their golden harvest ? 



A.D. 4»*54 


The Earlier Empire, 


having early agreed upon a common course of action, 
s dal s divided the spoil without dispute. They 

traffic of the trafficked in the offices of state, bestowed 
frecdmen, commissions in the army, sold the verdicts 
of the law courts, and put up the Emperor^s favour to the 
highest bidder. One privilege, which millions craved, the 

citizenship of Rome, was above all a source 
especially m - . . _ -i /- i i 

the grant of of incomc to the favoured freedmen, who 

citizenship, could get their master’s signature to any 
deed. He has, indeed, in historj^ the credit of a liberal 
which may poUcy of incorporation, and speeches are put 
his lihcra^Tty mouth in which he argues from the 

in that re- bcst precedents of earlier days in favour of 
opening the doors to alien races. It may be 
that his study of the past had taught him something ; but 
it is likely that the interest of his ministers did more to 
further a course which in their hands was so lucrative a 
form of jobbery. It was a common jest to say that 
the market was so overstocked at last that the franchise 
went for a mere song. 

But these, after all, were petty gains, and they needed 
a more royal road to wealth. They found it in a new kind 
They con6s- proscription. They marked out for death 
^rt^ofthr confiscation those who had houses or 

richly worL gardens which they coveted, made out the 
rich men to be malcontents, and the city to 
fears, fuU of traitors. It was easy to work upon 

the Emperor’s fears, for he had always been an abject 
craven, and was always fancying hidden daggers. A 
telling story, a mysterious warning, or a dream invented 
for the purpose, almost anything could throw him off his 
balance and make him give the fatal order. Nor did 
they always wait for that One day a centurion came 
to give in his report. He had, in pursuance of his orders, 
killed a man of consular rank. Claudius had never 



A.D. 4I-'54« 


Claudius. 


93 


known of it before, but approved the act when he heard 
the soldiers praised for being so ready to avenge their 
lord. When the list was made out in later times, it was 
believed that thirty-five members of the Senate and 
some three hundred knights fell as victims to the caprice 
or greed of the clique that governed in the name of 
Claudius, many of them without any forms of justice, or 
at best with the hurried mockery of a trial in the palace. 
So fatal to a people may be the weakness of its rulers. 
It was noticed as a scandalous proof of his vvhosoon 
recklessness in bloodshed that he soon for- 
got even what had passed, and bade the the fataT^^" 
ver)'^ men to supper whose death-warrant °*'^®*’* 
he had signed, and wondered why they were so late 
in coming. 

The guilt of these atrocities must be shared also by 
his wives. Of these Claudius married several . 

. . , • 11 1 • His wives. 

m succession, but two especially stand out in 
history for the horror of all times. 

Messalina’s name has passed into a byword for un- 
bounded wantonness without disguise or shame. Her 
fatal influence ruined or degraded all she 
touched. The pictures painted of her in old 
writers give no redeeming features in her character, no 
single unselfish aim or mental grace, nothing but sensual 
appetites in a form of clay. Her beauty gained her an 
easy command over her husband^s heart, but not content 
with that her wanton fancy ranged through 
every social order and shrank from no im- bounded 
pure advances. Some whom she tempted '^^^‘onncss. 
had repelled her in their virtue or disgust, but her 
slighted love soon ttmied to hatred, and on one false plea 
or other she took the forfeit of their lives. For she had 
no scruples or compunction, no shrinking from the sight 

blood ; and pity, if she ever felt it, was with her only 



A.D. 41-54. 


94 


The Earlier Empire, 


and cruelty. 


by killing 
Polybius, 


a mere passing thrill, a counter-irritant to other feelings 
of the flesh. The Roman Jezebel coveted, 
we read, the splendid gardens of Liicullus, 
and to get them had a lying charge of treason brought 
against Valerius Asiaticus, their owner. His defence 
was so pathetic as to move all those who heard him in 
the Emperor^s chamber, and to make even Messalina 
weep. But as she hurried out to dry her tears she 
whispered to her agent, who stood beside, that for all 
this the accused must not escape. 

For a long time she was wise enough to court or 
At list she humour the confederates of the palace, and 
defied the SO far her course of crime was easy. At 
freedniea threw off such restraints of prudence? 

turned upon Polybius, who had taken her favours in too 
serious a mood, and rid herself for ever of 
his ill-timed jealousy. The other freedmen 
took his fate as a warning of defiance to them all, looked 
for a stniggle of life and death, and watched their oppor- 
tunity to strike. The chance soon came, for Messalina cast 
and causes lustful cyes on a young noble, and did not 

public scruple to parade her insolent contempt for 

man^dlig^ Claudius by forcing Silius to a public marriage. 
Siiuis. ^^1]^ Qf ^he whole town, but the 

Emperor was the last to know it. Then Narcissus saw 
the time was come, and, though the rest wavered, he was 
firm. In concert with his confidants he opened the hus- 
band’s eyes, and worked skilfully upon his 
teiircfau- fears with dark warnings about plots and 

dius, revolution ; prevented any intercourse be- 

tween them, lest her wiles and beauty might prove 
and procures Scheme, and at Iasi boldly 

her death. ordered her death, while Claudius gave no 
sign and asked no question. She died in the gardens of 
Lucullus, purchased so lately by the murder of their 
owner. 



A.D. 41-54. 


Claudius, 


95 


The Emperor soon after made a speech to his guards 
upon the subject, bemoaned his sorry luck in marriage, 
and told them they might use their swords upon him if 
he ever took another wife. But his freedmen ^ 
knew him better, and were already in debate among the 
upon the choice of a new wife. Callistus, to^thrSioTce 
Pallas, and Narcissus each had his separate of a new 
scheme in view, and the rival claims broke 
up the old harmony between them. The choice of 
Pallas fell on Agrippina, the daughter of Agrippina, 
Germanicus and niece of Claudius. Mar- carries^^off 
ried at the age of twelve to Cn. Domitiiis the prize, 
Ahenobarbus, a man of singular ferocity of temper, she 
had brought him a son who was to be one day famous. 
She had been foully treated by Caligula, her brother, 
and banished to an island till his death. Recalled by 
Claudius, she learnt prudence from the fate of the two 
Juliae, sister and cousin, who fell victims to the jealousy 
of Messalina. She shunned all dangerous rivalry at 
court, and was content to exchange her widowhood for 
the quiet country life of a new husband, one of the 
richest men in Rome, who, dying shortly after, left 
Domitius his heir, and gave her back her freedom when 
the time was come for her to use it. Her first care was 
to gain a powerful ally at court. She found one soon in 
Pallas, who was as proud and ambitious as herself, and 
she stooped to be the mistress of a minion while aspiring 
to be an Emperor’s wife. When Pallas pleaded for her 
in the council-chamber, where the merits of the different 
claimants were long and anxiously discussed, she did not 
spare to use her feminine wiles upon the weak old man. 
By right of kinship she had a ready access to the 
palace, and could lavish her caresses and her blandish- 
ments upon him. The fort besieged so hotly fell at once, 
and she was soon his wife in all but name. For awhile he 
seemed to waver at the thought of shocking public senti 



96 


The Earlier Empire, 


A.D. 41-54* 


ment by a marriage with his niece ; but those scruples 
were soon swept aside by the courtly entreaties of the 
Senate and the clamour of a hired mob. 

Agrippina showed at once that she meant to be regent 

who showed grasped with a firm 

at once her hand the reins of power, still relied upon the 
rule su- veteran statecraft and experience of Pallas, 

prcme, maintaining with him the old intrigue, 

broke up the league of the confederates. The feminine 
swept aside ^ivals whosc influence she feared were swept 
her rivals, aside by banishment or death. Lollia above 
all had crossed her path, and seemed likely to carry off 
especially the prize. She did not rest till the order 
Lollia; given for her death and a centurion 

despatched to bring her head. Then — so runs the horrid 
story — to make sure that the ghastly face was really that 
of the beautiful woman she had feared and hated, she 
pushed up the pallid lips to feel the teeth, whose form she 
knew. Then she felt that she was safe, and received the 
title of Augusta from the Senate. She had the doings of 
her court reported in the official journals of the day, and 
gave the law to all the social world of Rome. Two 
children of Claudius, by Messalina, Britannicus and 
^ ^ ^ ^ . Octavia, stood in the path of her ambition, 

betrothed to Of these the latter was at once betrothed 

her son, young son, who was pushed forward 

rapidly in the career of honours, ennobled even with 
proconsular authority, and styled ‘ Prince of the Youth ’ 
even in his seventeenth year. Meantime the star of the 
young Britannicus was paling, and men noted with 
and the suspicion that all the trusted guards and 

trusted scr- servants of the boy were one by one re- 

Britannicus moved and their places filled with strangers, 

removed. Qf frecdmen of the palace Narcissus 
only had not bowed before her; with gloomy look and 
ili-concealed suspense he still watched over his patron 


and the 
trusted ser- 
vants of 
Britannicus 
removed. 



A.D. 41-54* 


Claudius, 


97 

and his children. His strength of character and long 
experience gave him a hold over his master that was 
still unshaken, and Agrippina did not dare to attack 
him face to face. But his enmity was not to be des- 
pised. He had sealed the doom of one wife — he might 
yet destroy another. There was something 
to alarm her also in the mood of Claudius, Afraid of 
weak dotard as he was, for strange words and of delay 
fell from him in his drunken fits, coupled 
with maudlin tenderness for his own children and sus- 
picious looks at Nero. There seemed no time, therefore, 
to be lost, and she decided to act promptly. She seized 
the opportunity when Narcissus was sent , . , 

... - - r t she had 

away awhile to take the waters for the gout ; ciaudiut 
and while his watchful eye was off her, she voysoned, 
called to her aid the skill of the poisoner Locusta, and 
gave Claudius the fatal dose in the savoury dish he loved. 

Scarcely was he dead when Seneca wrote for the 

amusement of the Roman circles a withering satire on 

the solemn act by which he was raised to -ihe satire oi 

the rank of the immortals. In a medley of Seneca on 
, , , 1 r 1 ^ deinca- 

hom sly prose and lofty verse he pictures the tion of ciau- 
scene above at the moment of the Emperor^s 
death. Mercury had taken pity on his lingering agony, 
and begged Clotho, one of the three Fates, to cut short 
his span of life. She tells him that she was only waiting 
till he had made an end of giving the full franchise to 
the world. Already by his grace Greeks and Gauls, 
Spaniards and Britons wore the toga, and only a few 
remnants were still left uncared for. But at length she 
lets loose the struggling soul. Then the The scene 
scene shifts to heaven. Jupiter is told that ^„s"aSves 
a stranger had just come hobbling in, a bald in heaven, 
old man, who wagged his head so much and spoke so 
thick that no one could make out his meaning, for it 
A.H. H 



98 


The Earlier Empire. 


A.D. 41-54. 


did not sound like Greek or Roman or any sort of 
civilized speech. Hercules, as being used to monsters, 
is deputed to ask him whence he comes, and he 
does this as a Greek in words of Homer. Claudius, 
glad to find scholars up in heaven who may perhaps 
think well of his own works of history, caps the quo- 
tation with another about a journey made from Troy, 
and might have imposed on the simple-minded god, if 
the goddess Fever had not come up at the moment from 
the Roman shrine where she was worshipped, and said 
that he was only bom at Lugdunum, in the country of 
the old Gauls, who, like himself, had taken the capital 
by stomi. Claudius, in his anger, made the usual gesture 
by which he ordered men’s heads off their shoulders, 
but no one minded him any more than if they had been 
his own proud freedmen ; so, remembering that he could 
not strut and crow any more on his own dunghill, he 
begs Hercules to befriend him and to plead his cause 
in the council-chamber of the gods. This 
he does with some effect, and when the 
debate opens most of the speakers seem 
inclined to let Claudius come in. But at length 
Augustus rises, and with energy denounces 
his successor, who had shed so much noble 
blood like water, and murdered so many of 
the family of the Caesars without a trial or 
His speech and vote decide the question, 
and Claudius is dragged away to Hades with 
a noose about his throat like the victims of 
his cruelty. As he passes on his way through 
Rome his funeral dirge is being sung, and he hears the 
and passing snatches of it which mentioned in his praise 
^^^\cars speedy on the seat 

ihc'dirgcs on of judgment, or could decide so easily after 
kimscif. hearing one side only, or sometimes neither ; 
and that pleaders and gamblers would keenly feel the 


The debate 
as to his 
admission 


turns 

against him 
^ler the 
protest of 
Augustus. 

a hearing. 


He is 
dragged 
away to 
Hades ; 



A.D. 54-68. 


Nero, 


99 


The spirits 
of his victim' 
crowd in 


meh 
nd hiiT 


loss of a monarch who had loved so much the law court 
and the dice-box. The spirits in Hades raise a shout 
of triumph when they hear that he is near, and all whom 
he had sent before him throng about him as he enters. 
There they stand, the intimates, the kinsmen 
he had doomed to death, the senators, the 
knights, and less honoured names as count- 
less as the sand on the seashore, and silently 
confront the fallen tyrant. But Claudius, seeing all the 
well-known faces, forgetting, as he often did in life, or 
even ignorant of the causes of their death, said, ‘ Why, 
Here are all friends ! How ever came you 
hither?^ Then they curse him to his face 
and drag him to the chair of yEacus, the 
judge, who condemns him unheard, to the 
surprise of all, save the criminal himself 
After some thought a fitting penalty was found. Claudius 
was doomed to play for all eternity with a dice-box that 
had no bottom. 


and drag him 
before the 
judge, 
to receive 
his fitting 
doom. 


CHAPTER V. 

NERO.— A.D. 54-68 

We read that when Domitius was told that he had a son, 
he said that any child of his by Agrippina must provr 
an odious and baneful creature. The mother xhe early 
asked her brother Caius, the Emperor, to give 
the child a name, but he pointed to Claudius, his laughing- 
stock, and said that the little one should bear his name, 
though the mother angrily protested at the omen. Soon 
afterwards he lost his parents’ care by death and banish- 
ment, and was brought up at the house of his aunt, 
Lepida, entrusted to the charge of a dancing- master and 


II a 



100 


TIu Earlier Empire, a.d. 54-66. 

a barber, till brighter times came back with the return 
of his mother from her place of exile. He rose with 
Agrippina’s rise to power, and became the central object 
of her ambitious hopes ; for, the sister of one emperor 
and wife of another, she was determined to be the 
liroughtfur- Hiothci* of a third. At the age of ten she 
ward by his had him made the adopted son of Claudius^ 
adopted by when he took the name of Nero. The 
Claudius, choice of Seneca to be his tutor met with 

the approval of men of worth and culture ; the ap' 
pointnient of Burrhus to be the sole prasfect of the prae 
torian guard secured the support of the armed force 
of Rome. His betrothal to Octavia strengthened his 
claims still further, and stirred the jealousy of the young 
Britannicus and the grave fears of the old servants like 
Narcissus. The issue showed how well-founded w^ere 
those fears. As soon as the death of Claudius was 
made known, Nero, hurrying to the camp of his ad- 
visers, spoke the soldiers fairly, and making ample pro- 
be was mises of largess, was saluted Emperor by ac- 
Emperor by clamation. The claims of Britannicus w'ere 
the soldiers, set aside, and no voice was raised even in 
the Senate in his favour. 

At first the strong will of Agrippina seemed to give 
the tone to the new government. Votes were passed in 
her honour by the Senate; the watchword given to the 
His mother soldiers was, ‘ The best of mothers.’ To satisfy 
trSd^S' fust resentment or to calm her fears Narcissus 
to govern, had to die. That she might take her part in 
all concerns of state the Senate was called to the palace 
to debate, where behind a curtain she could hear and not 
be seen. But the two chief advisers of the prince, though 
they owed their places to her favour, had no mind to be 
the tools of a bold bad w'oman, behind whom they could 
still see the form of the haughty minion Pallas. 



A.D. 54-68. 


Nero, 


lOI 


The prsefect of the praetorians, Afranius Burrhus, who 
wielded the araied force of the new government, was a 
man of grave and almost austere character, but Burrhus, 
whose name had long stood high at Rome for 
soldierly discipline and honour. His merits guard, 
had given him a claim to his high rank, and he would 
not stoop to courtierlike compliance. He used his weighty 
influence for good, though he had at times to stand by 
and witness evil which he was powerless to check. 

L. Annaeus Seneca represented the moral force of the 
privy council, though he had the more yielding and com- 
pliant temper of the two. Sprung from a rich and Seneca, 
family of Corduba, in Spain, his wealth and 
good connexions and brilliant powers of Nero, 
rhetoric had made him popular in early life with the 
highest circles of the capital, till he gained to his cost the 
favour of the Emperor^s sister. Banished by the influence 
of Messalina, he had turned to philosophy for comfort, 
and won high repute among the serious world of Rome 
by the earnestness and fervour of his letters. Few stood 
higher among the moral writers of the day, no one seemed 
fitter by experience and natural tastes to be director of the 
conscience of the young nobility. 

With rare harmony, though different methods, the 
two advisers used their influence to sway the 
young Emperor’s mind and to check the reins out of 
overweening pride of Agrippina. They took iiantis. 
the reins of power from her hand and reassured the 
public mind, which had been unnerved by the despotic 
venal government of late years, with its tyrant menials 
and closet trials. They restored to the Senate 1^ 

some portion of its old authority and chose 
the public servants wisely. For five years 
the world was ruled with dignity and order, 
for the young Emperor reigned in name, but did not 



102 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 54-68. 


govern, and the acts that passed for his were grave and 
prudent, while the very words even were put into his 
mouth for state occasions. When the Senate sent a vote 
of thanks he bade them keep their gratitude till he de- 
served it ; and when he had to sign a death-warrant, he 
said that he wished he was not scholar enough to write 
his name. The pretty phrases were repeated ; men did 
not stay to ask if they were Seneca’s or N ero’s, but hoped 
that they might prove the keynote of the new reign. But 
the two ministers meantime had cause for grave mis- 
though they givings, for they had long studied their young 
for^gravr charge with watchful eyes, and had seen with 
misgivings. regret how little they could do to mould his 
character as they could wish. Burrhus had failed to teach 
him in the camp any of the virtues of a soldier ; all the 
lessons of temperance, hardihood, and patience left no 
traces in his mind. Seneca had been warned, we read, 
by Agrippina that the quibbles of philosophy would be 
too mean for his young pupil. He had little taste him- 
self for the orators of the Republic, and did not care to 
point to them for lessons of manly dignity and freedom. 
But he did his best to teach him wisdom, spoke to him 
In spite of earnestly of duty, wrote for him moral trea- 
to*f6nn hU tises, full of thought and epigiam, on themes 
tastes like clemency and anger, but could not drop 

the language of the court, and hinted in his very warn- 
ings that the prince was raised above the law — was 
almost a god to make and to destroy. 

Nero even from his youth had turned of choice to other 
teachers. He had little taste for the old Roman drill in 
arms and law and oratory, and was, it was noted, the first 
he showed a emperors who had his speeches written 

passion for for him, from lack of readiness in public busi- 
the fine art.s ^ passion for the arts 

of Greece, for music, poetry, and acting ; had the first 



ILD . 54-68. 


Nero. 


103 


masters of the age to train him, studied with them far 
into the night, and soon began to pride himself upon 
the inspiration of the Muses. To gain time for such 
pursuits he was well content to leave the business of 

state to graver heads, and to take his part only in the 

pageant. He had other pleasures of a meaner stamp. 
Soon it was the talk of Rome that the young Emperor 

stole out in disguise at night, went to low ^nd for low 

haunts or roved about the streets with noisy dissipation, 
roysterers like himself, broke into taverns and assaulted 
quiet citizens, and showed even in his mirth the signs of 
latent wantonness and cruelty. 

His boon companions were not slow to foster the 
pride and insolence of rank, to bid him use the power he 
had, and free himself without delay from petticoat rule 
and the leading-strings of greybeards. Their counsels 
fell on willing ears. He had long been weary of his 
mother. She had ruled him as a boy by fear rather than 
by love, and now she could not stoop willingly to a 
lower place. She wanted to be regent still, . 
and hoped perhaps to see her son content to tience of hin 
sing and act and court the Muses, while she 
governed in his name. But he had listened couraged by 
gladly to ministers who schooled him to 
curb her ambition and assert himself. He looked on 
calmly while they checked her control over the Senate, 
put aside her chief adviser, Pallas, annulled the despotic 
acts of the last reign, and took the affairs of state out of 
her hands. She was not the woman to submit without a 
struggle. There were stormy scenes sometimes between 
them, and then again she tried with a woman^s blandish- 
ments to recover the ground that she had lost. She talked 
of the wrongs of the young Britannicus, and spoke of 
stirring the legions in his favour. As Nero’s love for 
Octavia cooled she took to her home the injured wife 



f04 


The Earlier E^npire, a.d. 54-68. 


lengths they 
had not 
dreamt of. 


and made public parade of sympathy and pity. When it 
was too late, she changed her course of action, condoned 
and offered even to disguise the amorous license on which 
she had frowned before so sternly, and tried in vain to 
win his love with a studied tenderness that would refuse 
him nothing. 

Nero’s chief ministers had put him on his guard against 
her and roused his jealousy and fear. They had now to 
was carried Stand by and see the struggle take its course, 
by him to and watch the outcome with a growing horror. 

Britannicus, of whose name such imprudent 
use was made, was stricken at dinner with a 
sudden fit and taken out to die, as all men thought, by 
Treatment of sister hid her grief in silence, 

Britannicus blit slic was soon to be divorccd. Agrippina 
and Octavia. Stripped of all her guard of honour 

and forced to leave her house upon the Palatine; false 
informers were let loose upon her and wanton insolence 
Theattempts cncouraged. It was murmured that the dread 
Ag?i°pp1na Locusta was at work brewing her poisonous 
failed. drugs, and that three times they tried in vain 

to poison her. One day it was found that the canopy 
above her bed was so arranged that the ropes must soon 
give way, and the whole crush her as she lay in sleep. At 
length Nero could wait no longer, and he found a willing 
tool in Anicetus, the admiral of his fleet, and between 
them a dark plot was hatched. It was holiday-time, and 
Nero was taking the baths at Bake. Suddenly he wrote 
a letter to his mother full of sorrow at the past estrange - 
The dark Htent and of hopes that they might live on 
scheme to better terms if she would only come and see 

ilrown her in , . r i ■, try 

the Bay of him as of old. She came at once, and found 
Naples. ^ hearty welcome ; was pressed to stay on 
one plea or another till at last night was come. Nero 
conducted her to a barge of state and left her with tender 



A.D. 54'68. 


Nero. 


105 


words and fond embraces. Slie was not far upon her 
homeward way across the bay when, at a signal given, 
the deck fell crashing in and the barge rolled over on its 
side; and the crew, far from coming to the rescue, struck 
with their oars at Agrippina and her women as they 
struggled in the water. But she was quiet and kept afloat 
a while, till a boat picked her up and carried her to 
her home, to brood over the infamous design. 

At last she sent a messenger to tell her son * 
that she was safe though wounded. Nero, baffled in his 
murderous hopes and haunted by fears of vengeance, was 
for a while irresolute. He even called into counsel Seneca 
and Burrhus, and told them of his plot and of its failure. 
They would have no hand in her death, though they had 
no hope, perhaps no wish to save her. While they talk 
Anicetus acts. He hastens with an officer snowed by 
or two to Agrippina’s house, makes his way murder, 
through the startled crowd about the shore, 
and finds her in her bedroom all alone. There, while 
she eyes them fiercely and bids them strike the womb 
that bore the monster, they shower their blows upon her 
and leave her lifeless body gashed with wounds. 

The ministers of Neio must share the infamy of this 
unnatural deed. They had already tarnished their good 
name by mean compliance. To save the 

, ^ 1- • r • P.urrhus and 

power that was slipping from their grasp Seneca.to 
they had closed their eves to Nero’s vices : 
they had tried even to cloak his youthful fended the 
passion for a freedwoman by a paltry subter- ’ 
fuge ; they had held their peace when Britannicus was 
poisoned, and stooped even to share the bounties that 
were showered at the time upon the courtiers ; and now 
they sunk so low in good men’s eyes as to defend the 
deed from the thought of which even Nero at first 
shrunk aghast. Burrhus, we read, sent officers of the 



A.D. 54-^8. 


io6 The Earlier Empire. 

praetorian guard to announce the soldiers’ joy that their 
sovereign was safe for ever from his mother’s plots. 
Seneca’s hand drew up the dispatches to the Senate in 
which the murdered woman was charged with treasonable 
designs against the Emperor’s life, and all the worst 
horrors of the days of Claudius were raked up to cover 
her memory with shame. The Senate, too, was worthy 
and ublic prince, and voted solemn thanksgivings 

opinion con- for his Safety, while Thrasea alone protested 
doned it. silencc, and walked out of the house 

at last when he could brook their flattery no longer. 
Even distant cities found an excuse for mean servility. 
One deputation came to beg Nero in the name of the 
provincials to bear his heavy grief with patience. 

The Emperor came back to Rome to find the city 
decked out in festive guise to greet him like a con- 
Ncro gave qucring hero. So, rid at length of all fear of 
to'his^piea- rivalry or moral restraints from his advisers, 
sures, he gave free vent to his desires. Music and 

song, the circus and the theatre had been the passion of 
his childhood ; they were now to be the chief object of 
his life. He shared the tastes of the populace of Rome, 
and catered for them with imperial grandeur. No cost 
or care was spared to make the spectacles imposing and 
worthy of the master of the world. The old national 
^ ^ prejudice had looked on the actoi^’s trade as 

born Romans almost infamous for freeborn Romans; but 
on the stage, ^cro drovc upon the stage citizens of rank, 
knights and senators of ancient lineage, and made them 
play and act and dance before the people. The his- 
torian Dion Cassius rises from his sober prose almost to 
eloquence when he describes the descendants of the 
conquered races pointing the finger at the sons of the 
great families from which their victors sprung; the 
Greeks asking with surprise and scorn if that was indeed 



A.D. 54-68. 


Nero. 


107 


Mummius, the Spaniards marvelling to see a Scipio, the 
Macedonians an v^^milius before them. At last^ as if it 
were to cover their disgrace — or, as many thought, to 
share it — Nero appeared himself in public, ^ 1 1 ^ 
and sang and played and acted for the prize, 
and sought the plaudits of the crowd. He 
did not take it up as the mere pastime of an idle day, 
but practised and studied in real earnest, showed feverish 
jealousy of rival actors, and humbly bowed before the 
judges, as if the contest were a real one. No one might 
leave the theatre while he played ; Vespasian 

J J .. • 1 .* taking to It 

was seen to nod, and sunk at once m his in real 
good graces. Five thousand sturdy youths 
were trained to sit in companies among the audience and 
give the signal for applause. Not content with such 
display at Rome, he starred it even in the provinces. 
The Greeks were the great connoisseurs of all the fine 
arts ; in their towns were glorious prizes to be won, and 
Greece alone was worthy of his voice and talents. Greece 
was worthy also of her ruler ; nowhere was adulation 
more refined, nowhere did men flatter with more subtle 
tact the pride and vanity of the artist-prince. 

We cannot doubt that Nero had a genuine love of 
art. It may seem as if he lived to justify the modern 
fancy that art has a sphere and canons of its ^ , 

, , . 1 . , r 1 Nero had a 

own, and may be quite divorced from moral real love of 

laws. But indeed the art of Nero and his 
times was bad, and that because it was not moral. It 
set at naught the eternal laws of truth and simplicity, 
of temperance and order. In poetry and but the art 
music it was full of conceits and affecta- 
tions, straining after the fantastic. In plastic immoral, 
art size was thought of more than beauty of propor- 
tion, and men aimed at the vast and grandiose in enor- 
mous theatres and colossal statues. In place of the 


appeared on 
it himself, 



io8 The Earlier Empire, a.d. 54-68. 

delicate refinement of Greek taste its drama sought for 
coarse material effects ; it did not try by flight of fancy 
to stir the nobler feelings of the heart, but relied on 
sensuous pageantry and carnal horrors to goad and sate 
the morbid taste for what was coarse, ferocious, and 
obscene. 

Nero^s life as Emperor was one long series of stage 
effects, of which the leading feature was a feverish ex- 

, travagance. His return from the art-tour in 

Nero s ex- 

iravagant Greece outdid all the triumphal processions 
display, past. Thousands of carriages were 

needed for his baggage; his sumpter mules were shod 
with silver; and all the towns he passed upon his way 
received him through a breach made in their walls, for 
such he heard was the ‘ sign of honour’ with which their 
citizens were wont to welcome the Olympian victors of 
old days. The public works which he designed were 
more to feed his pride than serve the public. He 
wanted, like another Xerxes, to cut a canal through the 
Corinthian isthmus ; thought of making vast lakes to 
be supplied from the hot springs of Baise, and schemed 
great works by which the sea might be brought almost 
to the walls of Rome. But it was only by his build- 
especiallyin enduring traces, and to 

building, this the great disaster of his times gave an 
unlooked-for impulse. Some little shops in the low 
to which the grounds near the Circus took fire by chance. 

"^he flames spread fast through the narrow 
fresh ini- Streets and crowded alleys of the quarter, 
A.D. 64. and soon began to climb up the higher 
ground to the statelier houses of the wealthy. Al- 
most a week the fire was burning, and of the four- 
teen wards of the city only four escaped un- 
harmed. Nero was at Antium when the startling news 
arrived, and he reached Rome too late to save his 



A.D. 54-68. 


Nero. 


109 


palace. He threw his gardens open to the homeless 
poor, lowered at once the price of corn, and had booths 
raised in haste to shelter them. He did not lack sym- 
pathy for the masses of the city, whose tastes he shared 
and catered for. And yet the story spread that the 
horrors of the blazing city caught his excited The strange 
fancy, that he saw in it a scene worthy of an hiTcoit^ 
Emperor to act in, and sung the story of the diict, 
fall of Troy among the crashing ruins and the fury of the 
flames. Even wilder fancies spread among the people: 
men whispered that his servants had been ^nd 
seen with lighted torches in their hands as suspicions, 
they were hurrying to and fro to spread the fire. For 
Nero had been heard to wish that the old Rome of 
crooked streets and crowded lanes might be now sv/ept 
clean away, that he might rebuild it on a scale of royal 
grandeur. Certainly he claimed for himself the lion^s 
share of the space that the flames had cleared. 

The palace to which the Ikdatine hill had given a 
name now took a wider range and spread to the Esqui- 
line, including in its vast circuit long lines of He had the 
porticoes, lakes, woods, and parks; while the 
buildings were so lavishly adorned with every built for him 
art as to deserve the name of the ‘ Golden splendid^** 
House ^ which the people’s fancy gave to scale, 
them. In its vestibule stood the colossal figure of the 
Emperor, one hundred and twenty feet in height, which 
afterwards gave its name to the Colosseum. From it 
stretched porticoes a mile in length, supported on triple 
ranges of marble pillars, leading to the lake, round 
which was built a mimic towm, opening out into parks 
stocked with wild animals of every sort. The halls were 
lined with gold and precious stones; the banqueting- 
rooms were fitted with revolving roofs of ivory, per- 
forated to scatter flowers '^Jid perfumes on the guests 



no 


The Earlier Empire. a.d. 54-68. 

while shifting tables seemed to vanish of themselves and 
reappear charged with richest viands. There were baths 
too to suit all tastes, some supplied from the waters of the 
sea, and some filled with sulphurous streams that had 
their sources miles away. 

Thousands of the choicest works of art of Greece and 
Asia had been destroyed, but their place was taken by 

and fur- paintings and the statues brought from 

nishedwith every quarter of the empire. Nero sent 

trea^rcs of Special agents to ransack the cities for art- 

Greece. treasurcs, and many a town among the isles 
of Greece mourned in after days the visit that had des^ 
poiled it of some priceless treasure. 

When all was done and the Emperor surveyed the 
work, even he was satisfied, and he cried, ^ Now at least 
1 feel that I am lodged as a man should be.' It was in 
halls like these that the privileged few gathered round 
their lord when he returned from the grave business of 
the circus and the stage to indulge in the pleasures of 
the table, Otho, the profligate dandy, who had been 
, complaisant enough to lend his wife to Nero: 

vilegedia- Tigcllmus, prsefcct of the guards, ready to 

pander to his master's worst caprices; Vati- 
nius, the hunchback, who had left his cobbler's bend 
and pushed his fortunes in the palace by his scurriloui 
jests and reckless attacks on honest men; Sporus, the 
poor eunuch, and Pythagoras, the freedinan, both de- 
graded by the mockery of marriage with the wanton 
prince — these and many another whose names have not 
been gibbeted in history left their memories of infamy in 
that ‘ House of Gold.' 

The mood of the citizens meanwhile was dark and 
To turn sus- lowering as they brooded over their disasters, 
Eimseirr™ Nero looked to find some victims to fill 

their thoughts or turn their suspicion from himself. The 



A.D, 


Nero. 


Ill 


Christians were the scapegoats chosen. Confused in the 
popular fancy with the Jews, whose bigotry Nero made 
and turbulence had made them hated, looked 

lans his vic- 

upon askance by Roman rulers as members tims and his 
of secret clubs and possible conspirators, 
disliked probably by those who knew them best for their 
unsocial habits or their tirades against the fashions of the 
times, the Christians were sacrificed alike to policy and 
hatred. They deserved their fate, says Tacitus, not, in- 
deed, because they were guilty of the fire, but from their 
hatred of mankind. There was a refinement of cruelty in 
their doom. Some were covered with the skins of beasts, 
and fierce dogs were let loose to worry them. Others 
were tied to stakes and smeared with tar, and then at 
nightfall, one after another, they were set on ^ 
fire, that their burning bodies might light up nient of 
Nero’s gardens, while the crowds made merry tortunng" 
with good cheer, and the Emperor looked 
curiously on as at the play. No wonder that in the pages 
even of the heathen writers we hear something like a cry 
of horror, and that in the Christian literature we may 
trace the lurid colours of such scenes in the figures of 
Antichrist and in the visions of the coming judgment. 

But Nero did not often waste his thought and inge- 
nuity on such poor prey as the artizans and freedmen 
of the Christian Churches. His victims were commonly 
of higher rank, and the nearer to him the 
nearer they seemed to death. His aunt victims were 
followed his mother to the grave, and her of higher^ 
tender words to him as she lay upon her 
deathbed were rewarded by a message to His aunt, 
her doctor to be prompt and close her pains, his wife 
Octavia was soon divorced and killed, on a 
charge of faithlessness, which was so carelessly Con- 
trived as to shock men by its very wantonness of power. 



II2 


The Earlier Empire, a. a 54-^. 


Poppaea, 


iSurrhus, 


Poppaea, her successor, was dearly loved, and yet be 
killed her in a fit of passion with a hasty 
kick. He soon wearied of the grave face of 
Burrhus, who read in his coolness the omen 
of a speedy deatli. I^)efc're long he grew sick 
and felt that he was poisoned. He pointed to the blood 
that he spat up as the signs of princely gratitude, would 
not see Nero when he called to ask him how he felt, 
but said only, ‘ Wcll,^ and turned his face away and died. 
Seneca was longer spared, but he too felt that his time 
must come. He held himself aloof from court, tried to 
Seneca wealth and honours, to live 

spared for a austerely, and by the lessons of philosophy to 
make himself strong and self-contained, or to 
be director of the consciences of those who needed help 
and comfort. 

But with a prince like Nero even students were 
not safe, and philosophy itself was dangerous ground. 
The noblest minds at Rome were at this time mainly 
Stoics, and among the long line of Nero’s victims there 
Philosophers were many who were m some sense martyrs 
on to the Stoic creed. They were not republi- 

mistrust. cans, though they have sometimes passed 

for such in later history. They were not disloyal, though 
they were looked at with disfavour. They were ready to 
serve the ruling powers either in the Senate or the camp; 
there was a largeness even in their social views as citizens 
of the world that would seem to fit them markedly for 
carrying out the levelling spirit of the imperial policy. 
Nevertheless they were regarded with jealousy and mis- 
trust; nor is the reason far to seek. Stoicism in passing 
from the schools of Greece had ceased to be 
Stoicism, abstract theory, with interest only for the 

curious mind that loved the subtleties of paradox. It was 
a standard of duty for the Romans, and a creed to live and 



A, D. 


Nero, 


113 


die for. The resolute spirit and the hard outlines of its 
doctrines had a fascination for the higher type of Roman 
mind. To live up to the ideal of a noble life, in which 
reason should rule and virtue be its own reward ; to care 
very much for a good conscience, for personal dignity and 
freedom, and to think slightingly of short-lived goods over 
which the will has no control — here was a rule that was 
not without a certain grandeur, however wanting it might 
be at times in tenderness and sympathy. But such high 
teaching was distasteful to the sensualist and tyrant ; its 
tone rebuked his follies and his vices. It set 
up a higher standard than the will of Cccsar, distastefiii to 
and was too marked a contrast to the servile pnnee, 
flattery of the times. It was not the spiritual Quixotism 
of a few, which might be safely disregarded, but men 
flocked to it on every side for lessons of comfort and of 
hardihood in evil days. Weak women turned to it to 
give them strength, as Arria, in the days of Claudius, had 
shown her husband how to die, when she but spread 
handed him the dagger that had pierced her 
with the words, ^ See, Paetus, it does not hurt.^ society. 
Some spread the doctrines with a sort of apostolic fervour, 
and may well have said at times uncourtly things of the 
vices in high places, like the Puritan preachers of our own 
land. Some, again, mistook bluntness of speech for love 
of truth, like Comutus, who, when some one pressed Nero 
to write a work in some four hundred books, remarked 
that ^ no one then would read them; it was true Chrysip- 
pus wrote as many, but they were of some use to man- 
kind.’ Others, influencing the world of fashion in quiet 
intercourse and friendly letters, showed the young how 
to live in times of danger ; or when the fatal message 
came stood by and calmed the pains of death, like the 
father-confessors of the Church. 

Of the great Stoics of that time there was no more 

A, H. I 



114 Earlier Empire, a.d. 54 -^. 

commanding figure than that of Thrasea Paetus. He had 
The charac- none of the hard austerity of a Cato nor the 
of*Thrasea^ one-sided vehemence of a social reformer ; he 
Paetus. was fond even of the play, and mixed gaily 

in the social circles of the city; would not blame 
even vice severely, for fear of losing sight of charity 
to men. In the Senate he was discreet and calm, 
even when he disliked what was done ; tempered his 
blame with words of praise, spoke of Nero as an 
eminent prince, and voted commonly with his col- 
leagues, though he did not stoop to mean compliance. 
Sometimes, indeed, he protested by his silence, as when 
he rose and left the Senate-house rather than hear the 
apology of Nero for the murder of his mother, and when 
he declined to come and join the vote for the apotheosis 
of Poppaea. At last, when the evils seemed too strong for 
cure, he would take no part in public actions. For the 
last three years of his life he would not sit in his place 
among the senators, nor take the yearly vow of loyalty, 
nor offer prayer or sacrifice for Csesar. The rebuke of his 
silence was a marked one, for the world, watching his 
bearing, turned even to the official journals to see what 
Thrasea had not done, and to put their construction on 
his absence. The calm dignity of his demeanour seems to 
have awed even Nero for a while, but at last the Emperor 
wearied of his quiet protest. The fatal order found him 
in his garden, surrounded by a circle of his kinsmen and 
choice spirits, with whom he tranquilly conversed upon 
high themes. Like another Socrates he heard his doom 
with cheerfulness, and passed away without a bitter word. 

Seneca, too, found consolation but not safety in the 
Stoic doctrines. He had long retired from the active 
of Seneca world, and shunned the EmperoPs jealous 
(a.d. 65), sought in philosophy the les- 

wns of a lofty self-denial, and was spending the last 



4.D. 54-68 


Nero. 


rrS 

years of his life in studying how to die. The rash con- 
spiracy of a few of his acquaintance, in which he took 
no part himself, was the excuse, though not the motive, 
for his murder. The sentence found him with his young 
wife and intimates, prepared for but not courting death. 
Denied the pleasure of leaving them by will the last tokens 
of affection, he told his friends that he could bequeath 
them only the pattern of an honest life, and gently reproved 
the weakness of their grief. His veins were opened; but 
he talked on still while life was slowly ebbing, and was 
calm through all the agony of lingering death. 

Corbulo, the greatest soldier of his day, whose cha- 
racter was cast in an antique mould, and was true to 
the traditions of the camp, had also to ex- and of 
perience the ingratitude of princes. He had Corbulo. 
led his troops to victory in the North, had 
baffled the Parthian force and guile, and saved a Roman 
army from disaster ; he had been so loyal to his Emperor 
in the face of strong temptation as to cause the Armenian 
Tiridates to say in irony to Nero that he was lucky in 
having such a docile slave. Suddenly he was recalled 
with flattering words. The death-warrant met him on 
his way, and he fell upon his sword, saying only, < I de- 
served it.^ So unlooked for was the deed that men 
could only say that Nero was ashamed to meet his 
eye while busied in pursuits so unworthy of a monarch. 

A crowd of other victims pass before us on the scene. 
The least distinguished were driven forth from Rome to 
people lonely islands, while the chiefs proved other 
to the world that they had learned from the victims, 
Stoic creed the secret how to live nobly and die grandly. 
Women too were not wanting in heroic 
courage. Paulina, the young wife of Seneca, among the 
tried to go with him to the grave. Others 
were glad to save their self-respect by death. Of these 
1 • 



1 16 The Earlier Effipire. a.d. 54-68. 

some fell as victims to the jealousy of Caesar ; their emi- 
nence, their virtues, and historic names made 
different ° them dangerous rivals. Some found their 
reasons. Wealth a fatal burden when the Emperor’s 
wild extravagance had drained his coffers and fresh funds 
were needed for his lavish outlay. More frequently they 
died to expiate a moral protest, which was often silent, 
but not the less expressive. The absolute ruler was 
provoked by men who would not crouch or bend. He 
felt instinctively that they abhorred him, and fancied that 
he saw even in the look of Thrasea something of the sour 
pedagogue’s frown. Their fate marked the crisis of the 
struggle between high thought and an ignoble acting. 

Lucan too at this time, by a less honourable death, 
closed a short life of poetic fame. He had risen to 
early eminence in the social circles of the 
capital, stood high in favour at the court, 
where the passion for the fine arts was in vogue, and, 
as the nephew of Seneca, he shared the studies and 
for a time the confidence of Nero. But the sunshine of 
princely favour was soon clouded; he was coldly wel- 
comed in the palace, and then forbidden to recite in 
^ . public. What was the reason of the change 

disgrace at we caniiot say with certainty Perhaps he 
court, choice of his great sub- 

ject. The civil wars of the Republic had seemingly a 
fascination for the literary genius of this time, and many 
a pen was set to work and many a fancy fired by the story 
of the men who fought and died in the name of liberty 
or for the right to misgovern half the world. There was, 
of course, a danger in such themes. Julius Ciesar had 
written an Anti-Cato, to attack a popular ideal, and later 
rulers might be tempted to meet his eulogists with the 
sword rather than the pen. Historians had already 
suffered for their ill-timed praises of the great repub 



Nero. 


A. D. 


II? 


licans; and Claudius had been warned not to meddle 
with so perilous a theme. Lucan, therefore, 
may well have given offence to the instinc- choice of 
tive jealousy of a despot, though he was not s>jbjcct 
sparing of his flattering words, as when he bids him take 
a central place among the heavenly constellations, for 
fear of disturbing the equilibrium of the world ; and in 
the opening books, at least, which alone had seen the 
light, he was wary and cautious in his tone. Or it may 
be he offended Nero’s canons of poetic style, 
for he cast aside the old tradition and 
boldly dispensed with the dreamland of fable and all 
the machinery of the marvellous and superhuman. He 
aspired to set history to heroic verse, but claimed no 
knowledge of the world unseen. Or, as it is more likely 
still, his fame gave umbrage to his master, 
who was himself a would-be poet, and could the jealousy 
not bear to have a rival. Whatever may 
have been the cause of his disgrace, Lucan could not 
patiently submit to be thus silenced. His vanity needed 
the plaudits of the crowd ; his genius perhaps inhisrescnt- 
seemed cramped and chilled for the want of 
kindly s\ mpathy. For the habit of public readings, then so 
common, took to some extent the place of the journals and 
reviews of modern times, and brought an author into im- 


mediate relation with the cultivated world for whom he 
wrote. When this pleasure was denied him Lucan first 
distilled into his poem some of the bitterness of his 

wounded pride, and then joined a band of , 

, ^ \ . .-he took part 

resolute men who were conspiring to strike in a con- 

dowm the monarch of whom they were long 
weary and to set up a noble Piso in his place. The 
plot came to an untimely end, and most of those who 
joined it lost their lives. Lucan lost not his life only, 
but his honour, for when his fears were worked unon 



1 18 The Earlier Empire. a.d. 54-6S. 

he gave evidence against his friends, and even denounced 
^ his mother as an accomplice in the plot 
bSthHfeand We Can have little pity when we read that 
honour. could not save his life even by such 

means, nor can we feel interest in the affected calmness 
with which, in his last moments, he recited from his poem 
an account of death-agonies somewhat like his own. 

There died at the same time the chief professor of 
a very different creed from that of the great Stoics. 
Petronius Pctronius had given a lifetime to the study 

Arbiter, of the refinements of luxurious ease : his wit 

and taste and ingenuity had made him the oracle of 
Roman fashion, or the ^arbiter,’ as he was called, of 
elegance. Nothing new could pass current in the gay 
world of the city till it had the stamp of his approval. 

He was the probable author of a satire which 
amiior of^a^ curiously reflects the tone of social thought 
curious around him, its self-contempt, its mocking 
’ insight, and its shameless immorality. The 
work is a strange medley. It contains among othei things 
a specimen of a heroic poem on the same theme as that 
of Lucan^s, full of the mythological machinery which 
the bolder poet had eschewed, and intended, there- 
fore, possibly as a protest against Lucan’s revolutionary 
canons. It gives us also, in the supper of Trimalchio, 
a curious picture of the tasteless extravagance and vulgar 
ostentation of the wealthy upstarts of the times, such as 
might please the fastidious pride of the nobles in Roman 
circles. It might amuse them also, sated as they were 
with fashionable gossip, to hear the common people 
talk, and to be led in fancy into the disreputable haunts 
through which the hero of the piece is made to wander 
in the course of strange adventures, like a ‘ Gil Bias ’ of 
old romance. The writer, if he really was Petronius, 
roused at last a jealousy which caused his ruin; for 



A.D. 54*^8. 


Nero, 


T19 


the vile favourite, Tigellinus, who had gained the ear of 
Nero, and aspired to be the master of cere- • , , 

. 1 excited the 

monies at the palace, could not bear a rival jeaio-isy of 
near him. Hetrumpedup a false charge against [ “ 

him, worked upon his master's fears which fashions, 
had been excited lately by the widespread conspiracy of 
Piso, and had an order sent to him to keep away from 
court Petronius took the message for his was banished 
death-warrant, and calmly prepared to meet 
his end. He set his house in order, gave instructions to 
reward some and punish others of his slaves, wrote out 
his will, and composed a stinging satire upon the Em- 
peror's foul excesses which he sealed and sent to him 
before he died. It was noted that at the last no philo- 
sopher stood at his bedside to whisper words and died 
of comfort or dwell on hopes of immortality, [ndiffer. 
but that true, even in death, to his ignoble, e^ce. 
godless creed, he amused himself as the streams of life 
were ebbing with frivolous epigrams and wanton verses. 

Besides the portents of cruelty and lust, confined 
mainly to the walls of Rome, other disasters were not 
wanting to leave their gloomy traces on the annals ol 
the times. A hasty rising of the British tribes under 
Queen Boadicea was followed by the sac k The rising in 
of two great Roman colonies, Caraulodunum bsro^f 
and Londinium, and the loss of seventy thou- 
sand men. In Armenia a general's incapacity had brought 
dishonour on the legions and neai ly caused the loss of 
Syria. Italy had been visited with hurricane and other 
and plague ; and the volcanic forces that had 
been long pent up beneath Vesuvius gave some 
token of their power by rocking the ground on which 
Pompeii stood and laying almost all its buildings low. 

It was the monarch's turn at length to suffer some 
of the agony now felt around him ; and after fourteen 



120 The Earlier Empire. a.d. 54-68. 

years he fell because the world seemed weary of him, 
The re It f none raised a hand in his defence. The 

Vindex, in signal of revolt was given first in Gaul, 
Gaul, where Vindex, a chieftain of a powerful clan 

of Aquitania, roused the slumbering discontent into a 
flame by describing, as an eye-witness, the infamy of 
Nero's rule and the ends to which the heav>^ taxes were 
applied. He told them of Sporus carried as a bride 
in Nero’s litter and submitting publicly to his caresses; 
of Tigellinus lording it at Rome, and making havoc among 
noble lives, while his master was fiddling in all the theatres 
of Greece ; of Poppaea Sabina, first his mistress then 
his wife, who had her mules shod with shoes of gold, and 
five hundred asses daily milked to fill her bath ; of the 
countless millions ^vrung from toiling subjects and 
squandered on a vile fiivourite or a passing fancy. 
Waiving all hopes of personal ambition, he urged Galba, 
the governor of Spain, to lead the movement, and came 
to terms with Verginius Rufus, who was marching from 
mkenuphy Germany against him. He killed himself, 
the death o^f indeed, soon after with his owm hand in 
Vindex. despair, when the soldiers of Verginius fell 

upon his followers without orders from their general ; 
but Galba was moving with his legions, and courier 
after courier arrived in Rome to say that the West of 
the Empire was in arms. 

Nero heard the tidings first at Naples, but took little 
heed of anything except the taunts of Vindex 
diSereVee at at his sorry acting ; and even when he 
came at length to Rome he wavered be- 
tween childish levity and ferocious threats. Some- 
followed by times he could think only of silly jests and 
str^ge alter- scientific toys, sometimes he dreamed of fear- 
hope’Sid ful vengeance on the traitors and their par- 

dcspair. tisans in Rome and then again he would 

drop into maudlin lamentations, talk of moving his 



A.o. 54-68. 


Nero, 


I2I 


legions to sympathy by pathetic scenes, or of giving up 
the throne to live for art in humble peace. He tried to 
levy troops, but none answered to the call ; Deserted on 
the praetorian guards refused to march, the 
sentries even slunk away and left their posts, while the 
murmurs grew hourly more threatening, and ominous 
cries were heard even in the city. Afraid to stay within 
the palace, he went at night to ask his friends for shelter; 
but the doors of all were barred. He came back again 
to find his chambers plundered, and the box of poisons 
which he had hoarded gone. At length a freedman, Phaon, 
offered him a hiding-place outside the walls ; he fled.^w.'iy 
and barefooted as he was, with covered face, freed^an’°* 
Nero rode away to seek it. As he went by the house, 
quarters of the soldiers he heard them curse him and 
wish Galba joy. At last he and his guide leave the horses 
and creep through the brushwood and the rushes to the 
back of Phaon’s house, where on hands and feet he crawls 
through a narrow hole which was broken through the wall. 
Stretched on a paltiy mattress, in a dingy cell, hungry, 
but turning in disgust from the black bread, 
with the water from the marsh to slake his 
thirst, he listens with reluctance to the friends a^ony of 
who urge him to put an end to such ignoble 
scenes. He has a grave dug hastily to the measure of his 
body, and fragments of marble gathered for his monument, 
and he feels the dagger’s edge, but has not nerve enough 
to use it. He asks some of the bystanders to then at last 
show him by their example how to die, and 
then he feels ashamed of his own weakness and »elf. 
mutters, ^ Fie, Nero ! now is the time to play the man.’ At 
last comes Phaon’s courier with the news that the Senate 
had put a price upon his head ; the tramp of the horses 
tells him that his pursuers are on his track, and fear gives 
him the nerve to put the dagger to his throat, while, true to 
the passion of his life, he mutters, ‘ What a loss my death 



122 


A.D. 54-68, 


TTie Earlier Empire, 

will be to art ! ' Stoicism had taught his victims how to 
die with grand composure ; but all his high art and dra- 
matic studies could not save him from the meanest exit 
from the stage. His last wish was granted, and they 
burnt the body where it lay, to save it from the outrage 
that might follow. Two poor women, who had nursed 
him as a baby, and Acte, the object of his boyish love, 
gathered up his ashes and laid them beside the rest of 
his own race. 

It might be thought that few but his own pampered 
favourites could retain any affectionate remembrance ot 
such a monster of sensuality and cruel caprice, 
who at his best was moody and volatile, un- 
dignified and vain ; yet it seems that a fond 
memory of him lingered in the hearts of many 
of the people, who brought their flowers to 
deck his grave or posted up proclamations which an- 
nounced that he was living still and would come to take 
vengeance on his enemies. Pretenders started 

Pretenders ° t 

appeared in Up from time to time and gathered adherents 

his name. round them in his name, and even after 

twenty years one such adventurer, of humble birth, 

received from the Parthians a welcome and support, and 

was reluctantly abandoned by them at the last. 


Strange 
affection for 
his memory 
shown by 
some of the 
populace. 


CHAPTER VI. 

GALBA. — A.D, 68-69. 

The accession of Sulpicius Galba was due to a stir ot 
independence in the provinces. Gaul would not brook the 
The career of rule of Nero longer, and the chief who came 
forward in the name of Vindex to main- 
sion. tain their liberty of choice, and whose fiery 

proclamations hurled Nero from his throne, called upon 
Galba to succeed him. He came of ancient lineage, though 



A.D. 6S-69. 


Galba, 


m 

unconnected with the family which through natural ties or 
by adoption had given six emperors to Rome. Early 
omens are said to have drawn upon him as a boy the 
notice of Augustus and Tiberius ; he was hotly courted 
by the widowed Agrippina, and took a high place among 
the legatees of Li via Augusta in the will that was not 
carried out. Many years of his life were spent in high 
command in Africa, Germany, and Spain, where he be- 
came eminent for energy and strict discipline, bordering 
at times on harshness, till he put on a show of easy sloth 
to disarm the jealousy of Nero. The force at ^ governor 
his command was small. A single legion and pt Spain, he 
two troops of horse formed but a scanty army small force, 
to carry an Emperor to Rome. His soldiers pot hemty in 
showed no great enthusiasm for him, and some Hs cause, 
of his cavalry were minded even to desert him. When he 
heard the news of the death of Vindex he despaired not 
of success only but of life, and thought of ending his 
career by his own hand. 

So far he had appealed only to the province that he 
ruled, had begun to levy troops and strengthen his tiny 
army, and to form a council of provincial notabilities to 
advise him like a senate. He called himself the servant 
only of the Roman State. But when the tidings 
came that the capital had accepted him for ceptedby 

, . Ill 1 r the popu- 

their new ruler he took at once the name of uce instead 
Caesar, and put forth without disguise im- 
perial claims. Rival pretenders started up at 
once around him. In Africa, in Germany, in tenders ros® 
the quarters of the Praetorian guards, generals 
came forward to dispute the prize, for every camp might 
have its claimant when the power of the sword would give 
a title to the throne ; but one after another fell, while their 
soldiers wavered or deserted them. So Galba made his 
way to Rome without a struggle. But before him came 



124 


The Earlier Empire, a.d. 68-69. 


and Galba 
made his 
way to Rome 
without a 
struggle, 
but preceded 
by ugly 
rumours. 


and with no 

attractive 

look. 


the rumours of his harshness and his parsimony. He 
had sternly fined and punished the cities that 
were slow to recognise him, and put men to 
death unheard as partisans of the fallen causes. 
Ugly stories reappeared of the severities of 
earlier days — of the money-changer whose 
hands he had nailed to the bench where he 
had given false weight, of the criminal for whom he 
had provided in mockery a higher cross than usual, a«; 
he protested that he was a citizen of Rome. There 
was little to attract the people in the sight 
of their new prince, who entered Rome upon 
a litter, with hands and feet crippled by the 
gout, and face somewhat cold and hard, marked already 
with the feebleness of old age. 

The soldiers were the first to murmur. The marines 
whom Nero had called out mutinied when they were sent 
Discontent of ships, but they were sternly 

the marines, checked and decimated. The imperial body- 
guard of Germans was disbanded and sent back home 
empty-handed. The praetorians, ashamed 
already of the death of Nero and their prae- 
fect, heard with rage that the new sovereign would not 
court their favour or stoop to buy the loyalty of his 
soldiers. The legions on the frontier were ill" 
legionanes, pig^sed to think that their voices counted for 
so little, that they were not thought worthy of a word or 
promise. The German army chafed because their general 
Verginius had been removed on flattering pretexts, but 
really because his influence over them was feared; and 
they construed his forced absence from the camp as an 
insult to their loyalty, and the exceptional favours shown 
to some towns of Gaul as a marked affront 
popuiace. offered to themselves. Nor was the city 
populace in a cheerful mood. For years they had been 


pneto lans. 



A.D. 68-69. 


Galba. 


125 


feasted and caressed ; races and games, gladiators and 
wild beasts had made life seem a holiday and kept them 
ever in good humour. Now they heard that there was to 
be an end to all such cheer, for their ruler was a morose, 
penurious old man, who thought a few silver pieces 
awarded to the finest actor of the day a present worthy 
of a prince. 

Nero’s favourites and servants heard with rage that 
they must disgorge at once the plunder of the past 
rMme, A commission was appointed to call 

* , r . y Nero.sser- 

them to account and to wrest from them what vants and 

their master’s prodigality had given, and as a 
special grace to leave them each a beggarly tithe of all the 
presents, in which he had expended during the few years 
of his reign no less than two thousand one hundred million 
sesterces. The Senate and the men of worth 
and rank were full of hope at first, for Galba Senate, 
seemed upright and spoke them fair. But soon they found) 
to their dismay, that all influence had passed out of their 
hands, and that the Emperor himself was not the ruling 
power in the state. Three favourites — one a favour- 

freedman, Icelus ; two of higher rank, T. Vinius, 
his legate, and Cornelius Laco, an assessor abuse their 
in his court of justice — had followed him from 
Spain, and gained, as it seemed, an absolute control over 
his acts. They never left him, and the wits of Rome called 
them the Emperor’s pedagogues ; indeed, they seemed to 
guide the old man as by the leading-strings of childhood, 
and to recall the memory of the worst days of the dotard 
Claudius. Public offices of trust, boons, immunities, and 
honours were put up shamelessly to auction, and the life 
and honour of free men were sacrificed to the caprice and 
greed of haughty and venal minions, while the most infa- 
mous of Nero’s creatures, Tigellinus, was saved by their 
influence from the fate he merited. 



126 


The Earlier Empire, 


A.D. 68-69. 


In a short time the discontent was universal. Already 
the legions of the Rhine had refused the oath of loyalty, 
and called on the Senate and the people to choose another 
Emperor, while in the city the temper of all classes boded 
ill. But Galba took one more step, and that was fatal. 
Gaiba Feeling that at the age of seventy-three he 

as had not strength to rule alone, he decided to 

ic.'igue ; adopt a colleague and successor. His choice 

fell on Piso Frugi Licinianus, who was young, noble, and 
of eminent worth. But the act came too late to regain 
the confidence that had been lost, and only provoked a 
speedier explosion of fear, jealousy, and disaffection ; the 
more so because the speech in which he told the soldiers 
of his choice was of almost disdainful brevity, and irri* 
tated minds that were still wavering and might have been 
won over by a little timely liberality. 

The blow came from the praetorian camp, in which two 
common soldiers undertook to give away the throne, and 
but Otho word. A freedman had tampered 

intrigued with them in the interest of his master Otho, 

^MiersV who had hoped to take the place that Piso 
the guard, filled, and who would now try foul means, as fair 
had failed. The soldiers felt the temper of their comrades, 
and Otho^s intimates and servants were lavish with their 
presents to the guard on all occasions. While Galba stood 
one morning beside the altar on which the victim lay, and 
the priest read presages of disaster in the entrails, Otho 
was beckoned suddenly away on the plea of buying an old 


property with the advice of his architects and builders. In 
the Forum he found twenty-three praetorians, 
dwlyhur- who hurried him in a litter to their camp, and 
the^cam^° then presented him to the homage of their 

and saluted comrades. All were soon won over with fair 


Emperor* 


words and liberal promises of bounty. The 


marines had not forgiven the Emperor his harsh treatment 



Galba, 


k . T \, 68-69. 


12; 


of their comrades, and therefore joined the movement 
eagerly, while the armed forces quartered in the city made 
common cause with the insurgents, thrusting aside the 
officers who tried to hold them in. 

Rumours passed rapidly through Rome meanwhile. 
At first men heard that the guards were up in anns 
against their prince and had carried off a 
senator, some said Otho, to their camp. Mes- nu^rs^ 
sengers were dispatched at once by the startled 
rulers to secure if possible the obedience of through 
the other forces, while Piso appealed to the 
company on guard around the palace to be staunch and 
true even though others wavered, and then set out to face 
the insurgents in the camp. Shortly after came the 
news that the praetorians had slain Otho to assert their 
loyalty, and that they were coming to salute their sove- 
reign. The false news spread, designedly or not, and all 
classes who had hesitated before streamed into the palace 
to make a show of joy, and to conduct Galba to the camp, 
while one soldier in the crowd waved in the air his sword, 
dripping, as he said, with Otho’s blood. But , ^ „ 

t ^ 1 r f f and Oalba, 

the Emperor, mindful of discipline to the last, after much 

said, ‘ Comrade, who bade you do the deed ? ' seTout'for 
At length he started, after much debate and » 

doubt, but could make little way among the densely- 
crowded streets, and hardly reached the Forum, when the 
insurgent troops appeared in sight. They were joined at 
once by his single company of guards ; together they 
charged and dispersed the crowd that followed him, while 
the slaves that bore the litter flung it down upon the 
ground and left their master stunned and helpless and un- 
defended, to be hacked to death by the fierce but while on 
soldiery that closed about him. So died, says 
Tacitus, one whom all would have thought killed; 
fit for empire, had he not been Emperor in deed. There 



128 The Earlier Empire. a.d. 69 . 

were many claimants for the honour of dispatching him, 
and Vitellius received more than one hundred and twenty 
letters of petition from men who looked for high reward 
for such a signal merit. To save the trouble of deciding 
and to discourage so dangerous a precedent, he ordered 
all the suitors to be put to death. 

Piso had fled for sanctuary meantime to Vestals 
temple, where a poor slave took pity on him and gave him 
the shelter of his hut. But the emissaries of 
whoh^’fled Otho were soon upon the spot to drag him 
wxs^shin^at’ hiding-place and slay him on the 

the temple temple stcps and take his head to feast his. 

master’s eyes. The friends of the fallen rulers 
were allowed by special favour to buy their bodies from 
the soldiers, and show them the last tokens of respect. 


CHAPTER VII. 

OTHO.—A.D. 69. 

M. Salvius Otho began in early youth a wild and dis- 
solute career. To gain a footing in the palace he paid 
his court to an old waiting-maid of influence, 
Sreer and before long became one of the most pro* 

dissipation. niinent of the set of young roysterers who, 
surrounded Nero. He rose to be the chief friend and 
confidant of the young prince, encouraged him in his 
worst excesses, was privy even to his mother’s murder, 
and gave the luxurious supper which lulled her fears to 
rest. He relied too much, however, on his influence, and 
presumed to be the Emperor’s rival for the heart of 
Poppaea Sabina, after giving her his hand and home to 
cloak Nero’s wanton love. To cover his disgrace and 
check the scandalous gossip of the city he was appointed 



A.D. 69 - 


Otho, 


129 

to official duties in Lusitania, where for ten years his 
equity and self-restraint were a marked contrast to the 
infamy of his earlier and later life. In of better 
Cialba^s rise to power he saw his opportunity *^rovinc^l 
of return, and he exhausted all his arts of 
flattery and address in the attempt to win the old man's 
favour, with the further hope that he might take the 
place which the Emperor's death would soon ^ ^ ^ ^ 

vacate. That hope once baffled, he calmly Rome with 
laid his plans, and swept away without com- 
punction the obstacles that barred his road to power 
On the evening of the day when Galba fell he made his 
way across the blood-stained Forum to the palace, while 
the Senate in a hurried meeting passed all the usual 
votes of honour for their new prince. The 
populace were ready with their cheers, and placed him. 
pressed him to take the name of Nero, in memory of the 
revels of his youth. But the real power was in the 
soldiers' hands, and they watched with jealous care the 
puppet they had set upon the throne. He had nothing 
of the soldier's bearing, was effeminate in look and car- 
riage, with beardless face and an ungainly He gained 
walk. Yet, strange to say, they loved him 
well, and were loyal to him to the last. They love, 
kept watch and ward with anxious care that no evil might 
befall him. They once flew to arms in groundless panic 
when he was seated with his friends at supper, forced their 
way even to his presence, to make sure that their favourite 
was safe; and when he died some slew themselves in their 
despair, as the dog dies upon his master's grave. Otho 
could refuse them nothing. He let them choose their 
own commanders, listened readily to all their grievances, 
gave them freely all they asked for, and had recourse to 
subterfuges to rescue from their clutches some whom he 
A, H. K 



130 


The Earlier Empire, 


A.D. 69. 


But the 
armies of the 
Rhine had 
chosen 
Vitellius 
as their 
Emperor, 


wished to spare. He had soon need of all their loyalty, for 
even before Galba’s death the armies of the 
Rhine had hailed as Emperor their general 
Vitellius, and their legions were already on 
the march for Rome. For they were weary 
of the monotony of constant drill and bor- 
der camps, and flushed with triumph at the ease with 
which they had crushed the hopes of Vindex. They 
cast greedy eyes on the wealth of Gaul, and were jealous 
of the privileged praetorians ; they felt their power and 
longed to use it, now that the fatal secret had been learnt, 
that emperors were not made at Rome alone. 

So leaving Vitellius himself to follow slowly with the 
levies newly raised, two armies made their way to Italy, 
with Valens and Caecina at their head, and crossing the 
. Alps by different passes, after spreading terror 

and were on ^ ^ ^ r ^ 1 1 r t t t 

the inarch among the peoples of Gaul and of Helvetia, 

for Rome. plains of Lombardy. 

Letters meantime had passed between Vitellius and Otho, 

in which each urged the other to abate his claims, and 

to take anything short of the imperial power. From 

promises they passed to threats, and thence to plots. 

Each sent assassins to destroy the other, and each failed 

to gain his end. But the legions of the North came daily 

After fruit- * nearer, and Otho lost no time in mustering 

turcs 0? forces, and showed an energy of which 

peace, few had thought him capable. He could 

count upon the army in the East, where Vespasian was 

acting in his name. The nearer legions in Pannonia 

and Dalmatia were true to him, and would soon be ready 

Otho to join the forces that he led from Rome. 

So with such household troops as he could 
them. gather and the questionable contingent of two 

thousand gladiators, he set out to meet the enemy and 



A.D. 69 . 


Otho, 


131 

to appeal to the decision of the sword With him there 
went perforce many of the chief officers of state, the 
senators of consular rank, nobles and knights of high 
position : some proud of their gay arms and trappings, 
but raw and timid soldiers for the most part, thinking 
often more of the pleasures of the table than of the real 
business of war. But their presence in the camp gave 
moral support to Otho’s cause, and lessened the danger of 
disaffection in the rear. His most skilful generals urged 
delay till his distant forces could come up His generals 
from Illyria or the East ; but his soldiers were {Juf'he wouW 
rash and headstrong and, flushed by slight not waiu 
successes at first over Caecina, accused their chiefs of 
treachery. His confidants were inexperienced and san- 
guine, and Otho would not wait. He had not the nerve 
to bear suspense nor yet to brave the crash of battle. 
So weakening his army by the withdrawal of his guard, 
he retired to Brixellum (Brescia), to wait impatiently for 
the result, and to send messages in quick succession to 
urge his generals to fight without delay. The armies met 
in the shock of battle on the plains near „• 

H IS army 

Bedriacum, where Otho^s best generals, was routed 
forced to fight against their will, were the 
first to leave the field, and his ill-led and 
mutinous soldiers broke and fled. But the poor gladia- 
tors stood their ground and died almost to a man. The 
fugitives from the field of battle soon brought the tidings 
to Brixellum, and Otho saw that all was over. His 
guards, indeed, boasted of their loyal love, and urged him 
to live and to renew the struggle, and told him of his 
distant annies on the march. But he had staked his all 
upon a single battle, and he knew that he must pay his 
losses. He was sick perhaps of civil bloodshed, though 
the fine words which Tacitus ascribes to him sound 

K 3 



132 The Earlier Empire. a.d. 69. 

strangely in the mouth of one who plotted against Galba 
and gloated over Piso^s death. He waited one more day 
to let the senators retire who had reluctantly followed 
him to war, and to save Verginius from the blind fury 
of the soldiers, or perhaps with some faint lingering hope 
of rescue ; he spent one more night, we know not in what 
•nd he died thoughts, upon his bed, and at the dawn took 
hamUt'^° up his dagger and died by his own hand. It 
Brixeiiura. was Certainly no hero’s death. The meanest 
of that day, the poor gladiator of the stage, could face 
death calmly when his hour was come; and reigns of 
terror and the Stoics’ creed had long made suicide a thing 
of course to every weary or despairing soul. Yet so rare 
were the lessons of unselfishness in high places, that men 
thought it noble in him to risk no more his soldiers’ 
lives, painted with a loving hand the picture of his 
death, and whispered that his bold stroke for empire 
was perhaps the act, not of an unscrupulous adventurer, 
but of a republican who wished to restore his country’s 
freedom. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

VITELLIUS.— A.D. 69, 

A. ViTELLIUS had only a short term of power, but It 
was long enough to mark perhaps the lowest depth 
to which elective monarchy has ever fallen. 
His father Lucius had done good service 
Vitelhus. ^ soldier, but he came back to Rome to 

disgrace his name by mean and abject flattery of the 



Vitellius. 


A.D.69. 


133 


ruling powers. To pay his homage to the divine 
Caligula he veiled his bearjj and bowed to ^ 

the ground in silent adoration. To push his'faXriu 
his fortunes in the court of Claudius, where 
wives and freedmen ruled, he kept the effi- compiai- 
gies of Pallas and Narcissus among those 
of his household gods, and carried one of Messalina’s 
slippers in his bosom, to have the pleasure of kissing it 
in public. He rose to be thrice consul, and the admiring 
Senate had graven on his statue in the Forum the words 
which told of his unswerving loyalty towards his prince. 
The son followed in his father's steps and pandered to 
the vices of three Emperors in turn. As a youth he 
shared the sensual orgies of Tiberius at Capreae, he 
pleased Claudius by his skill at dice, and Nero by using 
a show of force when he was too shy to sing in public. 
In the province of Africa he bore a better character as 
proconsul, but as commissioner of public works at Rome 
he was said to have filched the gold out of the temples 
and replaced it with ornaments of baser metal. Yet 
on the recall of Verginius he was sent by s^ntby 
Galba to command the camp in lower Galba to 

_ n ,r 1 ^ 1 . command 

Germany. Men thought the appointment the army on 
strange enough. Some said he owed It to Rhine, 
a favourite’s caprice ; some fancied that he was chosen 
from contempt, as too mean and slothful to be dangerous 
in command. He was the greatest glutton of his times, 
had eaten all his means away, and had to Glutton and 
leave his family in hired lodgings and to if^ugh'he^ 
pledge his mother’s jewels to pay the ex- 
penses of his journey. But he started in the gayest 
mood, made messmates and friends of all he met, and 
did not stay to pick and choose. His low pleasantries 
and jovial humour charmed all the muleteers and 
soldiers on the road, and in the camp he was hearty and 



134 


The Earlier Empire, 


A,D. 69. 


he won 
the afTection 
of the sol-^ 
diers by his 
easy good- 
nature. 


Valens and 
Caecina, 
being disaf- 
fected to 
Galba, stir 
the army and 
put Vitellins 
forward, 


affable to all alike, was always ready to relax the rules of 
discipline, and seldom took the trouble to refuse a 
prayer. The army saw in him a general 
who was too liberal and open-handed to 
wish to stint them to their beggarly pit- 
tance and keep them to taskwork on the 
frontier. He would not try to curb theii 
license or deny them plunder if they were once upon 
the march to Rome. Two leading generals, Fabius 
Valens and Alienus Caecina, saw in him also 
a convenient tool, whose very vices caught 
the fancy of the soldiers, and whose name 
would sound well in a proclamation, but who 
was too weak and indolent to wish to rule, 
and would be obliged to fall back on men 
of action like themselves. Both wished for civil war on 
personal grounds. Valens resented bitterly the neglect 
of the good service rendered by him to Galba^s cause ; 
Csecina had just been detected in fraudulent use of public 
money and would soon be called to an account. 

Within a month a crowd of soldiers gather at nightfall 
round their general’s tent, force their way into his pre- 
sence, and carry him upon their shoulders through the 
camp, while their comrades salute their new Emperor 
with acclamations. The legions of the upper 

who is soon . 1 j • i.. j 1 

proclaimed province were already in revolt, and soon broke 
Emperor. allegiance to the Senate and 

joined their comrades of the lower Rhine. The two armies 
The march Under Valens and Csecina pushed forward 
to luiy, by separate routes to cross the Alps. Their 

track was marked by license and by rapine. The frightened 
villagers fled away; the townsfolk trembled lest their 
riches should tempt the soldiers' greed, or jealous neigh- 
bours vent their spite in treacherous charges, and were 
glad at any cost to purchase safety from the leaders. 



A.D. 69. 


Vitellius. 


135 


Caecina was the first to front the foe, but was beaten 
off from the strong walls of Placentia after a vain at- 
tempt to storm it, which caused the ruin of the amphi- 
theatre, the finest of the kind in Italy and the pride of 
all the townsmen. Valens, however, was not , . 

- , , . , , , . . , and victory 

far behind, and the two armies once united ofBedna- 
crushed the badly-handled troops of Otho in 
the victory of Bedriacum, near the confluence of the 
Addua and the Padus. 

Vitellius was in no mood to hurry. He was very 
well content to move in pomp and triumph on the road, 
or float at ease along the rivers, while his guards did 
the fighting. The provincials vied with each other 
in their eagerness to do him honour, and they found 
that the one passport to his favour was to provide 
abundance of good cheer. He was glutton and epi- 
cure in one. The countries through which he passed 
were drained of all their choicest, costliest while vitei- 
viands, and every halt upon the way was the Ing by^th? 
signal for a round of sumptuous banquets, way. 
which never came too fast for his voracious appetite ; 
while his train of followers gave loose to insolent license, 
plundering as they went and quarrelling with their hosts, 
and Vitellius only laughed in uproarious mirth to see 
their brawls. The rude soldiers of the North settled like 
a cloud of locusts on the fair lands of Italy; cornfields 
and \dneyards were stripped for many a league upon 
their way, and towns were ruined to supply their food. 
Pillage and rioting took the place of the stem ^ 

discipline of frontier armies, and camp-fol- intoRonveof 
lowers ravaged what the soldiers spared. 

Even in the streets of Rome the quiet 
citizens stood aghast as the wild-looking 
troops came pouring in, the untanned skins of beasts 
upon their shoulders, their clumsy sandals slipping 



136 


The Earlier Empire, 


A.D. 69. 


on the stones. But the soldiers were in no mood to 
brook a curious stare or mocking jibe, for a blow soon 
followed on a word, and bloody brawls destroyed the 
peace of the streets where they were quartered. Caecina, 
with his cloak of plaid and Gallic trousers, had little of 
the Roman general’s look, nor did men eye his wife 
with pleasure as she rode by on her fine horse with 
withVitel- purple trappings. With them in militai*)^ 
lius, guise came the new master of the world, 

the soldiers’ choice, with the drunkard’s fiery face and 
weak legs that could scarcely carry his unwieldy frame. 
He now returned in state to the city from which he stole 
away but lately to avoid importunate creditors. His 
first care was to pay honour to the memory of Nero and 
to call at a concert for the song that he had loved, as if 
he saw in him the ideal of a ruler. But the substance 
who let his power passed at once out of his feeble 

favourites hands j the generals who had led his troops 
whlf^he governed in his name, while Asiaticus, his 
feasted. freedman, copied the insolence of the fa- 
vourites of Claudius. Their master meantime gave all 
his thoughts to the pleasures of the table, inventing new 
dishes to contain portentous pasties to which every 
land must yield its quota, and spending in a few short 
months nine hundred million sesterces in sumptuous 
fare. 

But he had no long time to eat and drink undisturbed. 
Hut in the Within eight months the armies of the East 
allegiance to Vespasian, and 
soon in arms, the legions in Mccsia and Pannonia, which 
had not been able to strike a blow for Otho, were ready 
to avenge him by turning their arms against Vitellius. 
The main army of the enemy, indeed, was slow to move ; 
but Primus Antonius, a bold and resolute officer, pushed 
on with the scanty forces that lay nearest on the road to 



A..D. 6g. 


Vitcllius, 


m 

Italy, and reached Verona before a blow was struck 
He might have paid dearly for his rashness if the 
generals of Vitellius had been prompt and and ail 
loyal ; but their mutual jealousies caused to 

treachery and wavering counsels in their help him. 
midst, and all seemed to conspire to help Vespasian. 
The air and luxury of Rome had done their work upon 
the vigour of the German legions, and their morale had 
suffered even more. The auxiliar>^ forces had been dis- 
banded and sent home ; recruiting had been stopped for 
want of funds ; furloughs were freely granted ; and the old 
praetorians had been broken up and were streaming now 
to join Antonius. The Etesian winds, which were blow- 
ing at this time, wafted the ships towards the East, but 
delayed all the homeward-bound, so that little was known 
of the plans and movements of the enemy, while it was 
no secret that the forces of Vitellius were daily growing 
weaker, and that Caecina was chafing visibly at the rising 
popularity of Valens. The fleet at Ravenna was the 
first to declare against Vitellius, for their ad- The trea- 
miral, Lucilius Bassus, had failed to gain the 
post of praetorian praefcct, and was eager to Caedna, 
avenge the slight. Ca?cina, who was taking the com- 
mand in the north of Italy, tried first to let the war drag 
slowly on, and then to spread disaffection in the ranks, 
and to raise the standard for Vespasian. But the 
soldiers had more sense of honour than their leaders. 
Hearing of the plot, they rose at once, threw Caecina and 
some others into chains, and fought on doggedly with- 
out a general. The crash of war came a ^ ^ 

second time upon the plains of Bedriacum, battle of 
where, after hard fighting, the legions of Ger- J^edriacum. 
many were routed, and flying in confusion to their en- 
trenchments at Cremona, brought upon the unoffending 
town all the horrors of havoc and destruction. 



138 The Earlier Empire, a. a 69. 

Even amid the scenes of that year of strife and car- 
nage the fate of Cremona sent a thrill of horror through- 
Sad fate of Italy. So Suddenly came the ruin on the 

Cremona. city that the great fair held there at that 
time was crowded with strangers from all parts, who 
shared the fate of the poor citizens. At a hasty word 
from their general Antonius, who said that the water 
in the bath was lukewarm and should be hotter soon, 
the soldiers broke all the bands of discipline, and for 
four days pillaged and burnt and tortured at their 
pleasure, till there was left only a heap of smoking 
ruins, and crowds of miserable captives kept for sale, 
whom for very shame no one would buy. 

Vitellius meanwhile had hardly realized his danger, 
till the news came of the treachery of Caecina and the 
V’t ilius * disasters at Bedriacum and Cremona. Even 
capable and then at first he tried to hide them from the 
irresolute. world and to silence the gloomy murmurs that 
were floating through the city. The enemy returned to him 
the scouts whom he had sent, but after hearing what 
they had to tell in secret he had their mouths stopped for 
ever. A centurion, Julius Agrestis, tried in vain to rouse 
him to be stirring, and volunteered to ascertain the truth 
with his own eyes. He went, returned, and when the 
Emperor affected still to disbelieve, he gave the best 
proof he could of his sincerity by falling on his sword 
upon the spot. Then, at last, Vitellius summoned reso- 
lution to raise recruits from the populace of Rome, and to 
call out the newly-levied cohorts of the guards. He set 
out at their head to guard the passes of the Apennines, 
but he soon wearied of the hardships of the field, and 
came back again to Rome to hear fresh tidings of treach- 
ery and losses, and to be told that Valens had been 
captured in the effort to raise Gaul in his defence, and to 
feel that his days of power were numbered. In despair 



Vitellius, 


A.D. 69. 


139 


at last he thought of abdication, and came to terms 
with Vespasian^s brother, Flavius Sabinus, xnedto 
who had long been prasfect of the city. In a abdicate, 
few hopeless words he told the soldiers and vent^by^** 
the people that he resigned all claims upon the soldiers, 
them, and laid aside the insignia of empire in the shrine 
of Concord. But the troops from Germany, who had felt 
their power a few months since, could not believe that it 
had passed out of their hands, and they rose in blind 
fury at the thought of tame submission. They forced 
Vitellius to resume his titles, and hurried to attack 
Sabinus, who, with some of the leading men of Rome 
and a scanty band of followers, was driven who stormed 
for refuge to the Capitol. There they andsicw^^^ 
found shelter for a single night, but on Sabinus: 
the morrow the citadel was attacked and stormed by 
overpowering numbers. A few resolute men died in its 
defence ; some slipped away in various disguises, and 
among them Domitian, the future Emperor ; but the rest 
were hunted down and slain in flight. In the confusion of 
the strife the famous temple of Jupiter caught 
fire. All were too busy to give time or thought 
to stay the flames, and in a few hours only 
ruins were left of the greatest of the national 
monuments of Rome, which, full of the associations of 
the past, had served for ages as a sort of record 
office in which were treasured the memorials of ancient 
history, the laws, the treaties, and the proclamations of 
old times. The loss was one that could not be replaced, 
but it was soon to be avenged. Antonius was not far 
away with the vanguard of Vespasian^s army. Messengers 
came fast to tell him first that the Capitol was besieged, 
and then that it was stormed. They were followed soon 
bv envoys from the Senate to plead for peace, but they 
were roughly handled by the soldiers; and Musonius 


and in the 
fray the 
temple of 
Jupiter was 
burnt 



140 


The Earlier Empire, 


A.D. 69. 


Antonius 
entered 
Rome and 
slaughtered 
the Vitel- 
lians. 


Rufus, of the Stoic creed, who had come unbidden with 
his calming lessons of philosophy found scant hearing 
for his balanced periods about concord, for the rude 
soldiers jeered and hooted till the sage dropped his ill- 
timed lecture for fear of still worse usage. V'estal 
Virgins came with letters from Vitellius asking for a single 
day of truce, but in vain, for the murder of Sabinus had 
put an end to the courtesies of war. Soon the army was 
at the gates of Rome, and scenes of fearful 
carnage followed in the gardens and the 
streets even of the city, for the Vitellians 
still sullenly resisted, though without leaders 
or settled methods of defence, till at length 
key were borne down by numbers, while the population 
turned with savage jeers against them and helped to hunt 
them from their hiding-places and to strip the bodies of 
the fallen. When the enemy was at the city gates, Vitel- 
lius slunk quietly away in a litter, with his butler and 
his cook to bear him company, in the hope of flying to 
the South. Losing heart or nerve, he had himself carried 
back again, and wandered restlessly through the deserted 
chambers of the palace. His servants even slipped away, 
and he was left alone. Before long the plunderers made 
their way into the palace, and after searching 
high and low found him at length hidden be- 
hind a mattress in the porter^s lodge, or, as 
another version of the story runs, crouching 
in a kennel with the dogs. They dragged 
him out with insults and blows, paraded him in mockery 
through the streets, and buffeted him to death at last in 
the place where the bodies of the meanest criminals were 
flung to feed the birds of prey. 


Vitellius was 
dragged 
from his 
hiding-place 
and slain, 
with insults. 



Vespasian. 


14I 


CHAPTER IX. 

VESPASIAN.— A.D. 69-79. 

The Flavian family, to which the next three Emperors 
belonged, was of no high descent. It was said, indeed — 
though Suetonius could find no evidence for ^ . 

1 1 f r • ♦ 1 <- 1 humble 

the story — that Vespasian s great-grandfather origin and 
was a day-labourer of Umbria, who came careeTof^ 
each year to work in the hire of a Sabine Vespasian, 
farmer, till at last he settled at Reate. His father had 
been a tax-gatherer in Asia, and had taken afterwards to 
the money-lendePs trade, and dying left a widow with 
two sons, Sabinus and Vespasianus. The younger showed 
in early life no high ambition, did not care even to be 
senator, and was only brought to sue for honours by the 
taunts and entreaties of his mother. Fortune did not 
seem to smile on him at first. Caligula was angry because 
the streets were foul when he was mdile, and had his 
bosom plastered up with mud. He proved his valour as 
a soldier in many a battlefield in Germany and Britain, 
but fell into disgrace again because his patron was Nar- 
cissus, on whose friends Agrippina looked askance. Then 
he rose to be governor of Africa, and was too fair not 
to give ofifence; but his worst danger was from Nero^s 
vanity, which he sorely wounded, by going to sleep while 
he was singing, or by leaving the party altogether. Shun- 
ning the court, he lived in quiet till the rising in Judaea 
made Nero think of him again as a general of ^ 

, . 1,1. Sent to com- 

tned capacity, yet too modest and unambi- nwnd in 

tious to be feared. By his energy and valour 

he soon restored discipline and won the soldiers^ trust, 



142 The Earlier Empire. a. d. 69 - 79 . 

and was going on vigorously with the work of conquest 
he showed when the news came of Nero^s fall. His 
his skill, and son Titus set out to pay his compliments to 
soldiers’ Galba, and possibly to push his fortunes at 
trust. court ; but hearing at Corinth that Galba 

too had fallen, and that Otho was in his place, he sailed 
back at once to join his father. 

Vespasian’s friends now thought that the time was 
come for him to strike a blow for empire. The two rivals 
who were quarrelling for the prize were men of infamous 
character and no talents for command, while the legions 
of the East trusted their generals and were jealous of the 
Western armies. The rumour was spread among them 
that they were to be shifted from their quarters to the 
rigour of the German frontier, to let others reap the 
fruits of war ; and they began to clamour for an em- 
peror of their own. Mucianus, the governor 
of Syria, might have been a formidable rival, 
for he was brilliant and dexterous in action, 
of winning ways and ready speech, had moved 
among the highest circles, and won the affec- 
tions of his soldiers. He was no friend to Vespasian, for 
he had coveted his post in Palestine; yet now, from a rare 
prudence or self-sacrifice, or gained over, it may be, by 
the graceful tact of Titus, he was willing to waive all 
claims of personal ambition and to share all the dangers 
of the movement. But Vespasian himself was slow to 
move. He had made his army take the oath to each 
^ ^ Emperor in turn, and he thought mainly now 

and he con- . , . ' , , . , , 

cented with of the war that lay ready to his hand. The 

reluctance, urgent pleadings of his son, the well-turned 
periods of Mucianus, such as Tacitus puts into his mouth, 
the sanguine hopes of friends, might have failed to make 
him risk the hazard ; but the soldiers’ talk had compro- 
mised his name, the troops at Aquileia had declared foi 


Titus and 
Mucianus 
pressed him 
to make 
himself 
Emperor, 



A.D. 69^79. Vespasian. 143 

him already, and he felt that it might be dangerous to 
draw back. The prsefect of Egypt, with whom Titus had 
intrigued already, took the first decisive step, and put at 
Vespasian^s command his important province and the 
corn-supplies of Rome. The annies of Palestine and 
Syria rose soon after and joined the movement with en- 
thusiasm. Berenice, Agrippa’s sister, who had long since 
gained the ear of Titus, helped him with her statecraft 
and brought offers of alliance from Eastern princes and 
even from the Parthian empire. But Vespasian was still 
slow and wary. While Primus Antonius pushed on with 
the vanguard of his army from Illyria, not staying in his 
adventurous haste to hear the warning to be cautious, 
Mucianus followed with the main body to find the stniggle 
almost over before he made his way to Rome, and was in 
Vespasian himself crossed over into Egypt to 
take measures to starve his enemies into sub- won. 
mission, or to hold the country as a stronghold in case oi 
failure. There he heard of the bold march of the van- 
guard into Italy, of the bloody struggle near Cremona, 
and of the undisputed march to Rome. Then came the 
tidings from the North-west that the withdrawal of the 
legions had been followed by a rising of the neighbouring 
races, and that even Roman troops had stooped so low 
as to swear fealty to the Gaul. The Britons and Dacians 
too were stirring, and brigands were pillaging the unde- 
fended Pontus. Soon he learnt that the Capitol had been 
stormed and his brother killed in the blind fury of the 
soldiers^ riot, but that vengeance had been taken in the 
blood of Vitellius and his troops. Each ship brought 
couriers with eventful news, or senators coming to do 
homage, till the great town of Alexandria was thronged 
to overflowing. Still he stayed in Egypt, till at length he 
could not in prudence tarry longer, for Mucianus having 
set Antonius aside was in absolute command at Rome, 



144 The Earlier Empire, a.d. 69-79 

and his own son Domitian, a youth of seventeen, who 
had been left in the city but escaped his uncle^s fate, 
seemed to have lost his head at the sudden change of 
fortune, and was indulging in arrogant caprices. Titus 
was with his father in Egypt till the last, and pleaded 
with him to deal tenderly with his brother’s wilful ways? 
then left to close the war in Palestine, while Vespasian 
hastened with the corn-ships on to Rome, where the gra- 
naries had only food for ten days left, and Mucianus 
had been ruling with a sovereign’s airs. 

Meantime the rising on the Rhine was quelled. It 
had its source in the revengeful ambition of Civilis, a 
The rebellion chieftain of the ruling class of the Batavi, 
GennL\y— twicc narrowly escaped with life 

its causes, from the charge of disloyalty to Rome. His 
people had long sent their contingents to serve beside 
the legions. Bold, brave, and proud of their military 
exploits, they were easily encouraged to believe that they 
could take the lead in a national movement of the 
Germans. The frontier had been almost stripped in the 
excitement of the civil war, and the scanty remnants of 
the legions knew not which side to join, and had no con- 
fidence in their leaders. To supply the w^aste of wai 
fresh levies were demanded, and the Batavi, stung to fury 
by the recruiting officers, listened readily to Civilis. They 
rose to arms, at first in Vespasian’s name, and then, throw- 
ing off the mask, frankly unfurled the national banner, 
to which the neighbouring races streamed. 

The Treveri and Lingones tried to play the same part 
among the Gauls and to lead them too against the im- 
«ariy sue- pcrial troops, who, half-hearted and mutinying 
cesses, against their leaders, laid down their arms 

or were overpowered by numbers. Some even took the 
military oath in the name of the sovereignty of Gaul. It 
was but an idle title after all. The mutual jealousy be* 



A. I). 69-79. 


145 


Vespasian. 

tween the several clans and towns barred the way to real 
union among them, nor would the Germans calmly yield 
to the pretensions of their less warlike neighbours. Soon, 
too, the tramp of the advancing legions was heard along 
tJie great highw'ays, for, the struggle once over at the 
centre, no time was lost in sending Cerealis to restore 
order on the Rhine. 

The wa /ering loyalty of the Gauls was soon secured, 
and it scarcely needed the general’s proclamation to re- 
mind them that the Roman Empire brought and speedy 
peace and safety to their homes, and that even failure, 
it they could rend that union to pieces they would be the 
first to suffer from its ruin. To reduce the Batavi to sub- 
mission force was needed more than words; but the strife 
grew more hopeless as their allies fell off, and such as 
still remained in arms were routed after an obstinate 
battle, in which a river^s bed was choked with the bodies 
of the slain. The submission of Civilis closed an insur- 
rection, formidable in itself, but most noteworthy as an 
ominous sign of the possible disruption of the Empire. 

It was left for Vespasian on his return to heal the 
gaping wounds of civil war, to restore good order to 
the provinces, and to calm the excitement of Vespasian 
the capital after scenes of fire and carnage, order a1 
and the vicissitude of the last eventful year, Rome, 
which had seen three Emperors rise and fall. The city was 
beautified again, and rose with fresh grandeur from the 
havoc and the ruin. The temple on the Capitol was 
magnificently restored, and all the dignitaries of Rome 
assembled in great pomp to share in laying the founda- 
tion-stone. The temple finished, they were careful to re- 
place some at least of what had been destroyed within it. 
Careful search was made for copies of the treaties, laws, 
and ancient records which had perished in the flames, and 
three thousand were replaced, as in a national museunx 
A. H, 


L 



A.D. 69-79 


146 The Earlier Empire, 

But while pious hands were dealing reverently with 
the greatest of Rome’s ancient temples the forces of 
destruction were let loose elsewhere, and prophecies of 
woe upon the Holy City of Jerusalem were nearing their 
The causes of fulfillment. To understand the causes of the 
theinsurrec- rising in Judaea it maybe well to glance at 
judxa, and Rome’s earlier relations with that country. 
?ions^o/lhe generals to conquer it was the 

^ews to great Pompeius, and it was on his forcible entry 
h.c!^ 63- imto the Temple that attention was directed 
A.D. 66. |-Q religion of a people who had a shrine 

seemingly without a god. Falling with the provinces of the 
East to the portion of Antonius, Judaea was conferred by 
him as a kingdom upon Herod, and Augustus afterwards 
confirmed that prince’s tenure and added fresh districts to 
his rule. For it was a settled maxim of his policy to draw a 
girdle of dependent kingdoms round the distant provinces, 
and gradually to accustom hardy races to the yoke of Rome. 
In the case of the Jews there seemed to be good reasons 
for this course. They were soon known to be a stubborn 
people, tenacious of their national customs, and ready to 
fly to arms in their defence. They were spread widely 
through the Empire, in the great cities and the marts of 
industry ; but men liked them less the more they saw 
them. They thought them turbulent and stiff-necked, and 
mutual prejudice prevented any real insight into national 
temper or any sympathy for the noble qualities of the race. 
It is curious to read in Tacitus the strange medley of gross 
errors about their history and creed — monstrous fancies 
gathered from malicious gossip or reported by credulous 
and ignorant writers. It is the more strange when we 
think that he must have seen hundreds of the men whose 
habits and beliefs he imwittingly misjudged, and one 
of whom at least wrote in his own days to enlighten the 
world of letters on the subject. At Rome the Jewish 
iiriiiiigrants were looked upon with marked disfavour 



A.D. 69-79. 


Vespasian, 


M7 


A.D. 66. 

A hasty 
rising at 
Jcnisalcm 
spread 
widely till 


Under Tiberius we read that thousands of them were 
forcibly removed as settlers to Sardinia, where if they 
sickened of malaria, as was likely, it would be but a 
trifling loss. In Judaea the caprices of the Emperors 
affected them but little, though they flew to arms rather 
than allow the statue of Caligula to be set up in theii 
Temple. But hard times began when, under Claudius, the 
country passed from the dynasty of the Herods to the 
rule of Roman knights or freedmen. It was their mis- 
fortune to be exposed to the greed or lust of men as bad 
as the provincial governors of the Republic, while zealots, 
who mistook the times, were fanning the flame 
of national discontent. They bore with the 
vile Felix ; but at length the insolence of 
Gessius Floras provoked a hasty rising, which 
spread rapidly from place to place, till the 
whole country was in arms. 

The general in command of Syria could make no head 
against the insurrection, which carried all before it till the 
strong hand of Vespasian turned upon the Vespasian 
rebels with resistless force the strong engine co^,^mTnd°he 
of Roman discipline. But the war which anny. 
had begun in a hasty not was persisted in with stubborn 
resolution. Towns and strongholds had to be stormed 
or starved into surrender, till the last hopes and fana- 
ticism of the people stood at bay within the walls of 
Jerusalem and the lines of the besieging legions. Two 
summers passed away while thus much was being 
done, and the third year was spent in further-reaching 
schemes of conquest, and the beleaguered city was left 
almost unassailed. It was at this point that 
Titus was left in sole command, eager to push Jerusalem 
forward the siege and to enjoy the sweets of Titus to 
victory at Rome. But he had no easy task 
before him. The city, strong by natural position, was 



148 


The Earlier Empire. 


A.D. 69-79. 


fortified by walls of unusual breadth and height, and amply 
supplied with water. Within were resolute men who had 
flocked thither from all sides to defend the shrine of their 
The obsti- most sacred memories and the stronghold of 
nate defence freedom, and whose fiery zeal swept every 
thought aside before their duty to their country and their 
God. There were also others more timid or more pru- 
dent, who better knew the force of Rome and feared the 
zealots’ narrow bigotry. Thus mutual distrust and mutual 
slaughter weakened the forces of defence. After long 
months of obstinate fighting discipline and skill prevailed 
and utter de- Over the dogged valour of the Jews — the Holy 
the”cit°”and taken by storm, and the great Temple, 

temple. the One centre of the nation’s worship, was 
utterly destroyed. It was said that Titus 
was grieved to see the ruin of so glorious a monument 
of art. He had no such tender feeling for his prisoners of 
war. The outbreak which Roman misgovernment had pro- 
voked had been already fearfully avenged. Jerusalem was 
left a heap of ruins, and its defenders were dragged in 
their conqueror’s train, to die of misery and hardship on 
the way or to feed the wild beasts with their bodies at 
the amphitheatres of the great cities on the road to Rome. 

When the successful general returned to Italy it re- 
mained only to celebrate the triumph of the war, and the 
The triumph J^'^ish historian Josephus describes, as an 
after the eyewitness, the splendid pageant, which was 
Is de^:rii?cd One magnificent beyond all parallel. The 
by Josephus, procession of the day began at the Triumphal 
Gate, through which for ages so many conquering armies 
had passed along in ponp. The rich spoil, gathered from 
miny a ransacked town, was followed by the long line of 
captives, the poor remains of the multitudes which had 
been carried off to furnish cruel sport for the citizens of 
Syrian towns. Then came the pictured shows that filled 



A..D. 69 - 79 * Vespasian, 149 

the kindling fancy with the memories of glory, strife, 
and carnage ; the battle scenes, the besieging lines, the 
dread confusion of the storming armies, the sky all Lglow 
with the blazing Temple, and streams of blood flowing 
through the burning cities. With each scene passed a cap- 
tive leader, to give reality to what men saw. Then came 
the sight most piteous to Jewish eyes — the plunder of the 
Holy Place, the sacred vessels which profane hands had 
feared to touch before, the golden table of the shewbread, 
the candlestick, which may be still seen portrayed, with its 
seven branching lamps, by those who pass beneath the 
Arch of Titus. After these came the images of victory, 
and then the ruling powers of Rome, the father with the 
two sons who were in their turn to succeed him. Hour 
after hour passed away as the procession moved in stately 
splendour through the streets. At last it wound along 
the Sacred Way which led up to the Capitol, and halted 
when the Emperor stood at the door of the great temple 
of Jupiter. While he waited there, the chief prisoner, 
Simon, the son of Gioras, was dragged off, with a noose 
about his deck, to the dark prison not many steps away. 
There was a silence of suspense while he was there buf- 
feted and slain; then the shout was raised that Rome’s 
enemy was no more ; the last sacrifices of the day were 
offered in the temple by Vespasian, and all was over. 

The war thus closed was a legacy of Nero’s rule, for the 
present government was one of peace. Happily the new 
Emperor was a man of different stamp from any of the 
Caesars who had gone before. There had Tj^eecono- 
been fearful waste of treasure, and the 
Empire needed a good manager who would tastes of 
husband its resources, and a quiet ruler who ^espasun. 
would soothe men’s ruffled nerv^es. Vespasian was not a 
man of high ambition or heroic measures. .Soldier as he 
was, he was glad to sheathe the sword; but otherwise he 



150 The Earlier Empire, a . d . 69-79 

carried to the palace the habits of earlier life. He was 
simple and homely in his tastes, affected no dignity, kept 
little state, and had no expensive pleasure s. 

Much of the cruelty of previous monarchs grew out of 
their wanton waste. The imperial revenue was small, and 
their extiavagance soon drained their coffers ; to replenish 
them they liad recourse to rapine or judicial murder. 
Vespasian saw the need of strict economy. To maintain 
his legions and the civil service, to feed and amuse a 
population of proud paupers, and to make good the 
rgivages of fire and sword, he needed a full treasury, and 
there could be little left to spend upon himself. But 
for himself he needed little. He loved his little house 
among the Sabine hills better than the palace of the 
Caesars ; drank his wine with keener relish from his old 
grandmother^s cup than from gold or silver goblets; 
disliked parade or etiquette, and could scarcely sit 
through the stately weariness of the triumphal show. He 
mocked at the flatterers who thought to please his vanity 
by making Hercules the founder of his race; and unwill- 
ingly, at Alexandria, submitted to test the virtue of his 
imperial hands on the blind who were brought to him to 
cure, as in later days monarchs used to touch for the 
king^s evil. 

Stories soon passed from mouth to mouth to show how 
he disliked luxurious habits. A perfumed fop, we read, 
came to thank him for the promise of promotion, but saw 
the great man turn away saying, ‘ I would rather that 
you smelt of garlic,’ and found his appointment cancelled 
after all. But as ruler he never seemed content. He said 
But he must have a vast sum 

needed and to Carry on the government, and he showed 
fargere- no lack of energy in raising it. Even at 
venue, Alexandria, the first city to salute him Empe- 

ror, the people who looked tor gratitude heard only of 



A. D. 69-79, Vespasian, 1 5 1 

higher taxes in the place of bounty, and vented their dis- 
gust in angry nicknames. Fresh tolls and taxes 
were imposed on every side by a financier who ncw\oSs*^^^ 
was indifferent to public talk or ridicule, and taxes, 
shrank from no source of income, however mean or un- 
savoury the name might seem, if only it filled his coffers. 
Men remembered that his father had been taxgatherer 
and usurer by turns, and they said the son took after him, 
when they saw their ruler stooping to unworthy traffic, 
selling his favours and immunities, bestowing honours 
on the highest bidder, and prostituting, as they fan- 
cied, the justice of his courts of law. It and made 
was said that he employed his mistress, money in 
Caenis, as a go-between in such degrading 
business, and that he allowed his fiscal agents 4 

to enrich themselves by greed and fraud, step- merry, 
ping in at last to take the spoil, and draining them like 
sponges dry. The wits of Rome of course amused 
themselves at his expense, and told their stories of 
his want of dignity. A servant one day asked him 
for a favour for one whom he called his brother. The 
Emperor sent at once to call the suitor to him, made 
him pay him down the sum which he had promised 
to his friend at court, and then when the servant 
came again to ask the favour said in answer, ‘ Look out 
for another brother, for he whom you call yours is now 
mined Another time a deputation came to tell him that 
a town had voted a costly statue in his honour. * Set 
it up at once,’ he said, and, holding out the hollow of his 
hand, ‘ here is the base all ready to receive it.’ There 
was, indeed, nothing royal in his talk or manners. He 
freely indulged in vulgar banter, and was never, it is said, 
in a gayer mood than when he had hit upon some sordid 
trick for raising money. Of such tales many, perhaps, 
were mere idle talk| the spleen of men who thought it 



152 


TJie Earlier Empire, a.d. 69-79. 


hard to be called upon to pay their quota to the expenser 
of the state. 

The money was certainly well used, however it was 
gotten. Government was carried on with a strong though 
But the thrifty hand, and peace and ordei were eveiy- 
was ^ where secured. Liberal grants were made to 
public cities in which fire and earthquake had made 
objects. havoc ; senators were provided with means 
to support their rank, and old families saved from ruin by 
timely generosity. The fine arts and liberal studies were 
encouraged ; public professorships were founded and 
endowed out of the Emperor^s privy purse. Nor were 
the amusements of the people overlooked, though his 
outlay on this score seemed mean and parsimonious as 
compared with the extravagance of Nero. It was the 
He was free great merit of Vespasian that absolute power 
[ousVand had no disturbing influence on his judgment 
suspicion, or his temper. He had no suspicious fears, 
but let his doors stand open to all comers through the 
day, and dropped the earlier habit of the court of searching 
those who entered. He showed no jealousy of great men 
round him, and treated Mucianus with forbearance, though 
his patience was sorely tried by his haughty airs. He 
was in no haste to assert his dignity, and when Demetrius 
the Cynic kept his seat and vented some rude speech as 
he came near him, he only called him ‘a snarling cur^ 
and passed on his way. 

In one case, indeed, he was persuaded to take harsher 
measures. Helvidius Priscus, the son-in-law of Thrasea 
Psetus, had from the first asserted in the 
most offensive forms his claims to republican 
equality. He spoke of his prince by name 
without a title of rank or honour ; as praetor 
he ignored him in all official acts, and treated him when 
they met with almost cynical contempt He was not 


Yet was per- 
suaded to 
put to death 
Helvidius 
Priscus, 



\.D. 69-79. Vespasian, 153 

content seemingly to be let alone, but aspired to be a 
martyr to his Stoic dogmas. Vespasian was provoked at 
last to give the order for his death, recalling it, indeed, 
soon after, but only to be told that it was too late to save 
him, for Titus and his chief advisers felt the danger from 
the philosophic malcontents, saw how much their policy 
of abstention had weakened the government ot Nero, and 
were resolved that Helvidius should die, though at the 
cost of Vespasian’s regret and self-reproach. 

There was also another scene, and one loo of unusual 
pathos, in which he acted sternly. Julius Sabinus was a 
chieftain of the Lingones who called his clan 
to arms for Gallic independence. The move- 
ment failed -the Sequani against whom he the Kuching 
marched having defeated him. He heard that 
the Roman eagles were at hand, and in despair love, 
the would-be Cmsar burnt his house over his head and 
hid himself in a dark cave, in hope that men might think 
him dead. His wife Epponina believed he was no more, 
and gave way to such an agony of grief that he sent a 
trusty messenger to tell her all and bid her join him. For 
years she lived, in the town by day among her unsus- 
pecting friends, and in the hours of darkness with her 
husband. She began to hope that she might free them 
both from the weariness of this concealment if she could 
but go to Rome and win his pardon. She dared not leave 
him in his hiding-place alone, so she took him with her 
in disguise. But the long journey was a fruitless one the 
boon was never granted. Sadly and wearily they made 
their way back to their hiding place, to carry on the old 
life of disguise and of suspense. Then, to make her trial 
harder, she bore two children to her husband. She hid her 
state from every eye, hid her little ones even .from her 
friends, suckled and reared them for some time in that 
dark cave with their father. At length the secret was dis- 



154 Earlier Empire. a.d. 69-79. 

covered, and the whole family was carried off to hear their 
sentence from Vespasian^s lips. In vain she asked for 
mercy, in vain she pleaded that the rash presumption of 
a moment had been atoned for by long years of lingering 
suspense ; in vain she brought her bttle ones to lisp with 
their infant lips the cry for pity, till the Emperor’s heart 
was touched and he was ready to relent. But Titus stood 
by and was seemingly unmoved. He urged that it would 
be a dangerous example to let any hope for mercy who 
had showed such high ambition, and that state policy 
required that they should die. Unable to save her hus- 
band, the noble-hearted woman bore him company in 
death, and left the Emperor’s presence with defiance on 
her lips. 

Vespasian was soon to follow her. He had passed ten 
years of sovereignty and sixty-nine of life. His career as 
Vespasian a ruler had been one of unremitting toil, and 
and d1e/fn^ even when his powers began to fail he would 
harness. not give himself more rest. Physicians warned 

him that he must slacken work and change the order of 
his daily life, but ‘ an emperor,’ he said. * should die upon 
his feet ; ’ and he was busy with the cares of office almost 
to the last. His jesting humour did not leave him even 
on his deathbed, and as the streams of life were ebbing 
he thought of the divine honours given to the earlier 
Caesars and said, ‘ I feel that I am just going to be a 
god.’ 

Nor did the populace forget to jest in their sorrow at 
his death. When the funeral rites were going on, an 
The charac- actor was Seen to personate the dead man by 
3ertlt\is dress and bearing and to ask the under- 

funerai taker how much the funeral cost. When a 
large sum was named, ‘ Give me the hundredth part of 
it,’ Vespasian was made to say, ' and fling my body into 
the Tiber.’ 



*55 


CHAPTER X. 
TITUS. —A.D. 79-81. 


Titus was born in the tiny cell of a poor house at Rome, 
when his father was struggling on with straitened means. 
But when Vespasian caught the eye of the The bright 
favourite Narcissus and was sent to serve in 
high command in Britain, his young son was life of Titus, 
taken to court, to be brought up with Britannicus and 
share his pursuits as schoolfellow and playmate. His 
powers of mind and body ripened rapidly, and he gave 
promise of a brilliant future, till his early career at court 
was cut short by the murder of Britannicus. He was said 
even to have touched with his lips the poisoned cup and 
to have long suffered from the potion. Little is told us 
of the years that followed save that he served with credit 
in campaigns in Germany and Britain, and gave some 
time to legal studies, till his father took the command ot 
the army in the Jewish war and the prospects of civil 
strife opened a wider horizon to his ambitious hopes. 
The memories of his early years spent in the palace may 
well have fired his fancy, and his adventurous spirit pro- 
bably outstripped the slow caution of Ves- Hisambi- 
pasian. It was Titus who intrigued with andint?i^ei 
Mucianus, who went to and fro between in Judaea. 
Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, who plotted and schemed 
with Berenice in the intervals of gayer moods, who com- 
promised his father’s name and drove him to come for- 
ward as a candidate for empire. 

When all was won and Vespasian's strong hand was 
needed in the capital, Titus was left to close the war in 



156 The Earlier Empire, a.d. 79”8 i . 

Palestine and to pacify the East. The struggle dragged 
Skill in the slowly on in spite of his impatience to return. 
cmeU*"to personal gallantry and skill in the con- 

th^^pn- ^ duct of the siege won the trust and affection 
Boners. mcrciless cruelty to 

the conquered left a lasting stain upon his name. The 
winter months were spent by him with royal pomp in 
the great towns of Syria, where the Eastern princes 
flocked to do him honour, and alarming rumours spread 
at Rome of the sovereign airs which he put on, of the 
ominous influence of Berenice, of his unbounded popu- 
larity with the army of the East. Men began to fear that 
he would not be content to wait and share the Empire, 
but would rend it asunder in a parricidal war. Such 
fears were soon put to rest when in early spring he left 
his train to follow as it could and hurried with all speed 
to greet Vespasian with the simple words, ^ See, father, 
here I am.’ 

From that time he shared in full the titles and 
reality of empire, assuming in his thirtieth year the 
He shared Tribunician dignity which his father had till 
modestly declined, and dazzling 
his father, Roman eyes with the pomp and magni- 
ficence of the triun-iphal shows. For Titus felt per- 
haps that Vespasian’s homely vulgarity was out of place 
in the founder of a new dynasty, and that to balance 
the traditions of the Cmsars and the profusion of a 
and studied Nero it would be prudent for the new rulers 
oTSt^rd^' to do something to make themselves admired 
show. or feared. He had himself a princely bearing 

and a ready flow of graceful words; he excelled in manly 
exercises, and was a lover of the fine arts. He keenly 
felt the ridicule that clung to some of his father’s ways of 
raising money, and urged him to think more of appear- 
ances; but in this Vespasian was not to be moved 



A.D. 79-8i 


Titus. 


He even bantered Titus on his delicate nerves, asking if 
he disliked the smell of the coins that were paid as the 
impost on unsavoury matter. But in other things he was 
more yielding. He was willing to follow the imperial 
traditions and spend largely on the great Monev was 
works which Titus raised to dignify the spent largely 
Flavian name or to eclipse the memory of works. 
Nero. The parks and woods included in the circuit oi 
the Golden House were given back to their earlier uses. 
The palace itself was in part pulled down, and the Baths 
of Titus swallowed up the rest, while the Temple of Peace 
was built to hold the works of art which had been stored 
within it. The bronze colossus of the Emperor, founded 
for Nero by Zenodorus, was changed into a statue of 
the Sun, and gave probably its name to the Flavian 
Amphitheatre which still survives in ruins. In after years 
a triumphal arch was planned and finished, on which we 
can still see the solemn pageant and note the great 
candlestick and other national trophies of which the 
Temple at Jerusalem had been despoiled. 

Besides such tokens of imperial grandeur Titus re- 
lied, it seems, on sterner action ; but in this he took 
nis measures without concert with his father. 

, , , , , . 1 . , A Uus made 

He had managed to win his consent to the himself 
death of Helvidius Priscus, but Vespasian 
would be no party to a reign of terror. His son took 
the unusual step of becoming praefect of the praetorian 
guards, an office filled commonly by knights. The 
soldiers were convenient agents, who asked no questions 
but acted at a word; and if anyone at Rome was too 
outspoken in his criticism or likely to be dangerous, he 
was easily removed in a hasty riot or a soldiers’ brawl, 
or a cry could be got up in the theatre or in the camp 
and the traitor’s head be called for. In one case, it is 
true, treasonable letters were found to prove the guilt of 



A.D. 79-81. 


158 The Earlier Empire. 

a noble who was seized as he left the palace where he 
had been dining ; but then it was remembered that 
Titus had a strange facility for copying handwriting, 
and boasted that he could have been a first-rate forger 
if he would. 

If it was his wish to inspire terror he succeeded, for 
men already began to whisper to each other about his 
cruelty, and to fear that they would see another Nero on 
andhisreia- thronc. Still more unpopular were his 

lions with relations with Berenice, which might end, it 
werc"oun- was thought, in marriage. Had she not 
already, like another Cleopatra, bound his 
yield. fancy to her by her Eastern spells, and would 

he not probably go on to seat the hated Jewish paramour 
upon his throne ? The populace of Rome, which had 
borne with Caligula’s mad antics and Nero’s monstrous 
orgies, were stirred with inexplicable loathing at the 
thought. Titus tried to silence the outcry with harsh 
measures, and had one bold caviller beaten with rods 
for a rude jest. But the storm grew louder; he saw at 
last that he must yield, and reluctantly consented to 
S nister dismiss her. This was not all that men 

nimours had to say against him. There were ugly 

about him. stoi'ies of rapacious greed, of debauches 
carried far into the night, of sensual excesses better left 
unnamed. 

Such was his character at Rome when Vespasian’s 
death left him sole occupant of the imperial office, and 
The change from that moment a change passed over the 
spirit of his life. Like Octavius he had been 
death. feared — he would now like Augustus win his 

people’s love. The boon companions who had shared his 
midnight parties, the unworthy favourites whose hands 
were tingling for the money-bags which Vespasian had 
filled, the informers who had tasted blood and thought 



A.D. 79-8 1. 


Titus, 


159 


the chief hindrance in their way had been removed by 
death — all these vanished at once like birds of night when 
dawn is come, and were driven even from the city. He 
was full of tenderness and courtesy for every courtly 
class, sanctioned by one stroke of the pen all and libe- 

. . It,- 1 rality made 

the concessions made by earlier monarchs ; him loved 
said it was not a princely thing to let any 
suitor leave him in sadness with his boon ungranted, and 
complained that he had lost a day in which he blest no 
man with a favour. So scrupulous was he of any show 
of greed that he would hardly receive the customary 
presents; so fearful of staining the sanctity of his 
reputation that he aimed at universal clemency, and 
pardoned two young conspirators with a graceful ten- 
derness for their mother^s anxious feelings, which made 
the mercy doubly precious. His father^s strict economy 
had left the treasury full, and Titus could enjoy awhile 
in safety the pleasure of giving freely and the luxury 
of being loved, for the people who had feared a tyrant 
thought that the golden age was come at last, and soon 
began to idolize a ruler who refused them nothing, who 
spoke with such a royal grace and spent so freely on 
their pleasures. They did not ask if it could last, or if 
the revenue could bear the constant strain ; they did not 
think that their ruler’s character might change again 
when he had to face the trial of an empty treasury and 
a disappointed people. Happily, perhaps, for the memory 
of Titus, his career upon the throne was short. He had 
little more than two short years of absolute power, when 
Rome heard with a genuine outburst of uni- univer- 
versal grief that its beloved ruler had caught sally la- 
a fever on his way to his villa on the Sabine when he 
hills, and died, complaining that it was hard 
to be robbed of life so soon, when he had only a single 
crime upon his conscience. What that crime was no 



A.D. 79-81. 


160 The Earlier Empire. 

one knew. Posterity perhaps might think that his one 
crime as sovereign was the leaving the legacy of empire 
to Domitian, his brother, whose vices he had clearly read 
and weakly pardoned. 

Some great disasters mark in sombre colours the 
annals of his rule ; in all he had shown for the sufferers 
The disat Unstinted sympathy and bounty. A great fire 
ters of his j'aged three days and nights through Rome ; 

a terrible plague spread its ravages through 
Italy ; and lastly the world was startled by the horrors of a 
story so unparalleled in history as to tempt us to dwell 
longer on details. 

The volcanic energies had been slumbering for ages 

beneath Vesuvius, or had found a vent perhaps here and 

Tiie eruption there in spots higher up along the coast that 

of Vesuvius Qf horror to the ancients, but seem 

a few years ’ 

before harmless now to modern eyes. A few years 

earlier they had. given tokens of their power by shaking 
to the ground the buildings of Pompeii, a city peopled 
by industrious traders. The Roman Senate, warned by 
the disaster, thought of removing the city to a safer spot ; 
but the Pompeians clung to their old neighbourhood and 
repaired in haste their ruined dwellings. The old town 
was swept away, with its distinctive Oscan forms, that 
told of times before Greeks or Romans set the local 
fashions, and a copy of the capital upon a humble 
scale, with forum, theatres, and temples, took its place. 
Some of the well-to-do migrated probably to distant 
homes and left their houses, to be hastily annexed to 
those of neighbours, who soon adapted them, though on 
different levels, to their use. But scarcely was the work 
of restoration over when the great cata- 
strophe came upon them. The little cloud 
that rests always on the mountain-top ex- 
panded suddenly to unwonted size. The credulous fancy 



A.D. 79-81. 


Titus. 


161 


of Dion Cassius pictures to us phantom shapes of an 
unearthly grandeur, like the giants that the poets sing of, 
riding in the air before the startled eyes of men ; but the 
younger Pliny, who was a distant eye-witness, The account 
describes the scene in simpler terms. He was youJjgej 
with his uncle, the great naturalist, who was Pliny- 
in command of the fleet then stationed at Misenum. 
Suddenly they were called upon to note the unusual ap- 
pearance of Vesuvius, where the cloud look to their eyes 
the form of an enormous pine-tree. The elder Pliny, who 
never lost a chance of learning, resolved to start at once 
to study the new marvel, and asked his nephew to go 
with him. But the young student, who even in later life 
cared more for books than nature, had a task to finish 
and declined to go. As the admiral was starting he re- 
ceived pressing messages from friends at Stabiae, close 
beneath the mountain, to help them to take refuge on ship- 
board, as the way round by land was long to take under the 
fier>^ hail that was fast falling. The fleet neared the shore, 
where the frightened families had piled their baggage 
ready to embark ; but the hot ashes fell upon the decks, 
thicker and hotter every moment, and, stranger still, the 
waters seemed to retire from the beach and to grow too 
shallow to allow them to reach the poor fugitives, who 
strained their eyes only to see the ships move off, and 
with them seemingly all hope of succour. The volcanic 
force was doubtless raising the whole beach and making 
the sea recede before it. But Pliny was not to be dis- 
couraged, and landed finally at another point, where a 
friend had a villa, on the coast. Here he bathed tran- 
quilly and supped and slept till the hot showers threatened 
to block up the doors, and the rocking earth loosened the 
walls within which they rested. So they made their way 
out on to the open beach, with cushions bound upon their 
heads for shelter from the ashes, and waited vainly for a 
A.H. M 



i 62 


The Earlier Empire, a.d. 79 8i. 


fair wind to take them thence. Pliny lay down to rest 
beside the water, while the sky was red with fire and 
The death of the air loaded with sulphureous gases ; and 
PiLy^^ when his slaves tried at last to lift him up 

A.D. 79. he rose only to fall and die. By a curious 

irony of fortune the student, whose great work is a sort of 
encyclopaedia of the knowledge which men had gathered 
about nature, chose the unhealthiest spot and the worst 
posture for his resting-place, while his ignorant servants 
managed to escape. For the waves were charged with 
sulphur that escaped from the fissures of the rocks, and 
the heavy gas, moving along the surface of the earth, was 
most fatal to those who stooped the lowest. 

Meantime at Pompeii the citizens first learned their 
danger as they were seated at the theatre and keeping 
The scene at sky and falling showers 

Pompeii, drove them to their homes. Some hurried 
thither to seize their valuables and hasten to be gone 
out of reach of further risk ; some felt the ground 
rock beneath them as they went and were crushed be- 
neath tl o falling pillars ; others sought a refuge in their 
cellars, and found the scorias piled around their dwellings. 
Hot dust was wafted through every crevice ; noxious 
gases were spread around them ; and thus their hiding- 
place became their tomb. Hour after hour the fiery 
and various showers fell and piled their heaps higher and 
dSh and higher over the doomed city, while a pall of 
ruin. darkness was spread over the earth. Then 

the hot rain came pouring down, as the sea-waters, find- 
ing their way through fissured rocks into the boiling 
mass, were belched forth again in vapour, which con- 
densing fell in rain. The rain, mingling with the scoriae, 
formed streams of mud, which grew almost into torrents 
on the steep hillsides, and poured through the streets 
of Herculaneum, choked up the houses as they passed, 



A.D. 


Titus, 


163 

then rose over the walls, till an indistinguishable mass 
was left at last to hide the place where once a fair city 
stood. 

Weeks after, when the volcano had spent its force, 
some of the citizens of Pompeii who had escaped came 
back to see the scene of desolation, guessed xhe survi- 
as they best could the site of their old homes, 
dug their way here and there through any partially 
hole which they could make into the rooms, hou^Ls^ of 
to carry off all the articles they prized, and the city, 
then they left the place for ever. Time after time since then 
the struggling forces have burst forth from 
the mountain, and the volcanic showers have tra^ again 
fallen and covered the old city with a thicker 
crust, till all trace of it was lost to sight and memory. 
After many centuries it was discovered by accident, and 
the work of clearance has been slowly going forward, 
constantly enriching the great Museum at Naples with 
stores to illustrate the industrial arts of ancient times, 
and restoring to our eyes a perfectly unique 
example of the country town of classical since^cof-^^* 
antiquity in all its characteristic features. 

At Herculaneum there has been less done, and there is 
more perhaps to be looked for. It was a More to be 
resort of fashion rather than a market-town, ^““h^cu- 
was more under Greek influence, and, there- laneum, 
fore, had a higher taste for the fine arts than Pompeii ; 
and above all it does not seem to have been rifled by its 
old inhabitants, from whose eyes it was hidden probably 
by thick coats of hardened mud. 


M t 



The Earlier Empire, 


A.D. 


164 


CHAPTER XI. 

DOMITIAN.— A.D. 8l-^6. 

During Domitian’s early years his father Vespasian was 
hiding in disgrace. He lived in a little house at Rome 
Domitlan’s SO meanly furnished that it had not a single 
early life, piece of silvcr plate, and his straitened 
means may possibly have tempted him to vice, as the 
scandalous stories of later days asserted. He first at- 
tracted public notice when his father headed the move- 
ment in the East, but Vitellius still left him unmolested. 

There was danger, however, from the fury 
from tTe of the soldiers, and he took refuge with his 

soldiers. unde Sabinus on the Capitol, to see the 

fortress stormed and the defenders slain. He escaped 
from the massacre in disguise, and lurked for awhile 
in the house of a poor friend in a mean quarter of the 
town. But succour was near at hand, and the vanguard 
of his father’s army not only brought him safety but 
raised him suddenly to unlooked-for greatness. 

The change was fatal to his modesty and self-control. 
He aired at once all the insolence of absolute power. 
Sudden gave the rein to his sensual desires, and 
rnmed^his bestowed all the offices of state at his caprice, 

head. Vcspasian even wrote in irony to thank him 

for not appointing a successor to himself. The arrival 
of Mucianus, the vicegerent of the Emperor, pr.t some 
check upon his license ; but it needed all the statesman’s 
authority and tact to temper the arrogance of the head- 
strong youth. The crisis on the Rhine was pressing, 
and they set out together for the seat of war, but all was 
over brfore they reached Lugdunum; and Domitian, 



A.D. 81-96. 


Domitian, 


165 

detained from going further, is said to have sent fruitless 
messages to tamper with the fidelity of Cerealis. If 
he had ever seriously hoped to raise himself to the 
level of his brother he had quite failed, and he had gone 
too far to meet his father’s eye without misgiving. To 
disarm the anger that he dreaded he feigned even 
folly and took to hunting flies, for the often-quoted jest 
of Vibius Crispus, that there was no one, Kept in 
‘ not even a fly, with Caesar,’ belongs more fage Vy 
probably to this than to a later time. Thanks Vespasian, 
to his father’s tenderness or the entreaties of his brother, 
he suffered nothing worse than warning words ; but Ves- 
pasian watched him narrowly henceforth, kept him always 
by his side, trusted him with no public functions, and 
flatly refused to let him lead the forces which the Par- 
thian king had sent to beg for in return for his own 
proffers of support. But by this time Domitian had 
learnt to bide his time and to be patient. He hid his 
chagrin at being kept thus in the leading-strings of 
childhood, and took to poetry, coquetting with the Muses 
in default of graver duties. 

At Vespasian’s death, however, the old temper broke 
out afresh. At first he thought of outbidding he iil-re- 
Titus by offering the soldiers a bounty twice 
as large, but wanted nerve to appeal to force ; of Titus, 
then he complained that he was kept out of his rights, as 
his father’s will had named him partner in the imperial 
power, and to the last he tried the long-suffering tender- 
ness of Titus by moody sullenness and discontent, and 
possibly even by plots against his life. 

His brother’s death soon removed the only obstacle 
to his ambition and the only restraint upon hu power of 
his will. But, strange to say, wanton and at 
headstrong as he had been before, he now Emperor, 
exerted a rare faculty of self-restraint, as if he were 



1 66 


The Earlier Empire, a.d. 81-96. 


weighted with the responsibility of power and wished 
to win and to deserve the popularity of Titus. He 
spent some time in quiet every morning to think over 
his course of action and to school himself for the duties 
of the day. He saw that justice was the first requisite of 
and wish to social Well-being, and he spared no effort 
rule well. secure it. In the law courts he was often 

to be seen listening to the pleadings and the sentence 
given. The judges knew that his eye was on them, and 
that it was dangerous to take a bribe or show caprice. 
Even in distant provinces the governors felt that they were 
closely watched, and. never, it is said, did they show 
more equity and self-restraint than in this opening period 
of Domitian’s rule. 

His treatment of another class showed a like spirit 

Hediscou informers had 

raged in- been a sort of weather-gauge of the moral 
formers, atmospherc around. Since Nero^s death 
the bolder spirits in the Senate had tried under each 
Emperor in turn to bring the false accusers to the 
bar of justice. The leading Stoics had come forward 
smarting with the memory of the friends whom they 
had lost, full of indignant eloquence against the blood- 
hounds who had hunted them to death. The infamous 
names of Marcellus, Crispus, Regulus called out an 
explosion of revengeful sentiment. The Senate even 
went so far as to ask that the old notebooks of the 
Emperors might be produced to furnish evidence against 
the men they hated. But little had been really done, 
and men thought they traced the malign influence of 
Mucianus in screening the criminals from attack. Titus 
had driven them away in disgrace ; but now perhaps they 
were creeping, like unclean things, out of their hiding- 
places to study the new sovereign's temper. They could 
not be encouraged by the words that dropped from him : 



A. D. 81-96. Domitian, 167 

* The prince who fails to chastise informers whets their 
zeal;^ nor by the penalty of exile fixed for the accuser 
who brought a charge of defrauding the treasury or privy 
purse, and failed to make it good. 

He tried next to meet a growing evil of the times that 
was significant of misrule. He announced that and legacies 
he would receive no legacies save from the to himself, 
childless, and quashed the wills made out of vanity or 
ostentation to the prejudice of the natural heirs. 

Not content with such reforms, he tried to give a 
higher moral tone to the social life of the and tried to 
great city, to check the license of the thea- of 

tres, to discourage indecent pasquinades, society, 
and raise the respect for chastity and moral ties. 

Had he only ruled as short a time as Titus he would 
have borne as fair a character in history, and he would 
seemingly have deserved it better, for he grasped the reins 
with a firmer hand and wished to merit rather than to win 
his subjects’ love. How was it that so fair an ^rohA- 
opening was so sadly clouded, or whence causes of 
the change that came over the spirit of his cha^ge^of 
rule.^ In the meagre account of ancient 
writers we find no attempt made to solve the problem. 
But we may see perhaps some explanation in the events 
that happened at the time. One thing was 
wanting still, the laurel crown of victory, to piete failure 
raise Domitian to the level of his brother, a general. 
In an evil hour he coveted military glory, and set out for 
Germany, where a pretext for war was never wanting. 
But, high as was the order of his talents, he had neithei 
the general’s eye nor the soldier’s courage, and his heart 
failed him when he drew nearer to the enemy. The 
German expedition ended as it began in 
plundering a few poor villages, and in pom- 
pous proclamations to the army and the Senate. But 



l68 The Earlier Empire, a.d. 

far away towards the Danube there was the sound of the 
real crash of war. Decebalus, at the head of his Dacian 
hordes, was an enemy worthy of the most skilful generals 
of Rome. Bold, fertile in resource, and skilled in all the 
fence of war, he had drilled and organized a formidable 
power, which for years tried the mettle of the Roman 
armies. Hither also came Domitian to gain 
his laurels, and here too his courage failed him. 
He stayed in the rear away from all the fighting, while 
his legions, badly led, were driven backward in disgrace. 
Unwilling to return without striking a blow to retrieve 
his tarnished fame, he hurried to Pannonia to chastise 
the Marcomanni for neglecting to send him succour in 
the war. But thither also he was followed by his evil star. 
Instead of the submission that he looked for he found a 
vigorous defence; he was ensnared and routed by an 
enemy whom he had thought to find an easy prey. Sick 
of war and of its dangers, he came to terms with 
Decebalus without delay; and rare as it was for a Roman 
leader to conclude a war after defeat, he was glad to pur- 
chase peace at any cost, and to give not money only but 
tools and workmen to teach the Dacian tribes the arts of 
civilized life. 

He could not face his people with the confession 
of his failure, so lying bulletins went homeward to the 
Senate to tell of victories never won and to disguise 
the history of the campaigns. Honours and thanks- 
givings were voted in profusion. The imperial city and 
the provincial towns accepted the official story, and 
raised with dutiful joy triumphal statues to their prince. 
But the truth leaked out, of course, and Domitian re- 
turned to Rome an altered man. He read mockery in 
the eyes of all he met, detested their praises as gross 
flattery, yet resented silence as a censure. He gave 
costly entertainments to the people, but with a gaiety 



A. D. 81-96. 


Domitian. 


169 

so forced and a mien so changed that men spoke of them 
currently as funeral feasts, till at last he took them at 
their word, inviting the senators to a strange parody of a 
supper in the tombs, and played with grim humour on 
their fears. 

While he was in this capricious mood another 
event served yet further to embitter him. 

Antonius, a governor upon the Rhine, be- racy°aSinst 
gan once more the fatal game of civil war. 

Though he was soon crushed and slain, and his note- 
books burnt, to compromise no partisans, yet the sus- 
picious fears of Domitian were not to be lulled so easily, 
and he fancied universal treacheiy around him. The 
plot was the motive or excuse for an outburst of vin- 
dictive feeling, which would not stay to wait for proofs, 
but grew ever more relentless the faster his victims fell. 
Like some half-tamed animals we read of, he needed to 
taste blood to reveal to himself and others the ferocity of 
his feline nature. 

One further cause perhaps there was— a frequent one 
with vicious rulers — to tempt him to yet further evil. 
This was simply want of money. The fruit- ^ ^Vant of 
less expenses of the wars, the heavy price he ®oney. 
paid for peace, the lavish outlay to keep up the farce and 
put the populace in good humour — these had drained the 
coffers which Vespasian had filled, and which the easy 
prodigality of Titus had already emptied. At first he 
was minded to economize by reducing the strength or 
number of the legions ; but he feared to weaken the thin 
line of border armies, and in his present mood he saw a 
readier way to fill his treasury — the old, old story of these 
evil times. Fines, confiscations, and judicial murders, 
became once more the order of the day, HUnume- 
col cured at times by various pleas, but often victims 
too by none at all He talked of conspiracies and trea 



lyo The Earlier Empire, a. d. 81-96, 

sons till his morbid fancy saw traitors everywhere around 
him ; his suspicious fears settled at last into general mis- 
trust as the hatred of the world grew more intense. 

The Philosophers were among the first to suffer. Rusti- 
The Philo- ^us and Senecio died for their outspoken reve- 
sophers. rence for the great martyrs of their Stoic creed, 

and many another suffered with them, till by one sweep- 
ing edict all were banished from the city and from Italy. 
Philosophy did not, indeed, make conspirators, but he 
feared its habits of bold speech and criticism, as modern 
despots are intolerant of a free press ; and he looked with 
an evil eye at men who would not stoop to Csesar-worship, 
as persecuting Churches W'ould trample out Dissent. 

Among those who were brought before him at this 
time and banished with the rest one name is mentioned 
Apollonius may stand apart, that of Apollonius of 

of Tyana. Tyana. He was, it seems, a wandering sage, 
so renowned for sanctity and wisdom that a band of 
admiring scholars grouped themselves around him, and 
were glad to follow him from land to land. Strange 
legends of his unearthly power gathered in time about his 
name, and words of more than human insight were re- 
ported to feed the credulous fancy of the world. In the 
last phase of the struggle between Pagan and Christian 
thought the figure of Apollonius was chosen as a rival to 
the Jesus of the Gospels, and his life was written by Philo- 
stratus to prove that the religious philosophy of heathen- 
ism could show its sermons, miracles, and inspiration. 

These were hard times for earnest thinkers ; they were 
not encouraging for men of action. Military prowess and 
The gene- succcss were too marked a contrast to the 
jlih’us humbling disasters on the Danube to meet 

Agricola. with much favour from the Emperor; but 
there were few generals of renown to try his temper. 
Julius Agricola is prominent among them, because the 



A.D. Si-g6. 


Domitian. 


171 


skilful pen of Tacitus, his son-in-law, has written for us the 
story of his life. His just, firm rule as governor of Bri- 
tain, the promptitude with which he swept away the 
abuses of the past, the courage with which he pushed 
his arms into the far North and brought Caledonia 
within the limits of his province, form a bright page in 
the annals of this period. But they gave little pleasure 
to his jealous sovereign, who eyed him coldly 
on his return to Rome, and gave him no fur- 
ther cliance of service or of glory. He lived a few years 
more in modest dignity, without a word of flattery, yet 
not desirous to court a useless death by offensive speech. 
When he died men whispered their suspicions of foul 
play, but the Emperor, who was named among his heirs, 
accepted gladly the token of his respect, forgetting his 
own earlier principles, or that, as the historian tells us, 
‘ only a bad prince is left a legacy in a good father^s will.' 

But though he feared serious thought and action, 
the lighter charms of literature might perhaps have 
soothed the moody prince. In earlier days Literary 
he had turned to poetry for solace, and nien. 
the sad Muses, whom he had courted in retirement, 
had, as Juvenal tells us, no patron else to look to 
than the Domitian who had just risen to the throne. 
But the Emperor read little else himself besides the 
memoirs of Tiberius, and the writers of his day had 
but scant cause to bless his princely boun- 
ties. Martial, with all his ready flow of 
sparkling verse, his pungent epigram, and witty sallies, 
had a hard life of it enough at Rome, and was reduced to 
cringe and flatter for the gift of a new toga or a paltry 
dole. Statius, well read and highly gifted as he was with 


fluency and fancy, found it easy to win loud 
applause when he read his Thebaid in public. 


but gained little by his ingenious compliments and con- 



172 


TJu Earlier Empire. A.n. 81 - 96 . 


Tacitus. 


ceits as poet laureate of the court, and had not means 
enough at last to find a marriage-portion for his daughter. 
Juvenal’s appeal in favour of the starving Muses met 
seemingly with no reponse, and disappointment may 
have added to his high-toned vehemence and 
juvena. studied scom. It was no time certainly for 
Tacitus to write without partiality or fear, and the 
condensed vigour of his style, its vivid por- 
traiture and power of moral indignation might 
have been lost wholly to the world had not another Em- 
peror come at last to combine monarchy with freedom. 

Meantime Rome had grown weary of the bloodthirsty 
mania of its ruler, who loved to pounce with stealthy 
suddenness upon his victims and to talk of mercy when 
he meant to slay. It was the rich, the noble, the large- 
Domitian hearted who suffered most in this reign of 
assassinated terror, and it was left to his wife and freedmen 

DV his WIIC ' 

and freed- to cut it shoit. Finding, it is said, a note- 
book in his bed, and in it their own names 
marked down for death, they formed their plans without 
delay. It was in vain that Domitian was haunted by his 
warning fears, that he had his porticoes inlaid with 
polished stone to reflect the assassin’s dagger ; in vain he 
sent for astrologers and soothsayers to read the future; 
he could not be always armed against the enemies of his 
own household. The conspirators surprised him alone 
in an unguarded moment and dispatched him with 
many wounds, though he struggled fiercely to the last 



173 


CHAPTER XII. 

THE POSITION OF THE EMPEROR. 

After studying the lives of the early Emperors in some 
detail it may be well to call attention to the marked pecu ■ 
liarities of the position which they filled. 

1. Henceforth the Emperor is virtually the sole 
source of law, for all the authorities quoted in the codes 
are embodiments of his will. As magistrate The Emperor 
he issued edicts in accordance with old usage [hrs^ourclfof 
in connexion with the higher offices which he law: 
held, as did the praetors of earlier days. When sitting 
judicially he gave decrees ; he sent mandates to his own 
officials, and rescripts when consulted by them. He 
named the authorized jurists whose responses had weight 
in the nice points of law. Above all, he guided the deci- 
sions of the Senate, whose Senatus considta took the place 
of the forms of the republican legislation. 

2. He was called on also to interpret law, either in 
the ordinary course of his functions when he served as 
yearly magistrate, or as the high court of 

appeal from the sentences of lower tribunals, prets the 
or through the Senate, which became a court 
of judicature for large classes of trials and looked con- 
stantly for imperial guidance. We read often in the lives 
of the earlier rulers of the unremitting care with which 
they took part in such inquiries. 

3. As the head of the executive the Emperor must 
enforce the law. Most of the officials soon and enforces 
became his nominees, though a few of the 
dignified posts were filled up with some show of tivc. 

free election in the Senate ; but the master of the legions 



174 


The Earlier Empire. 


Hu power 
unique in 
kind. 


holds the power of the sword, and cannot share it with 
others if he would. 

The power so expressed was unique in kind. It ex- 
tended over the whole civilized world, over all the cities 
of historic fame and all the great nations of 
antiquity. It rested upon an overwhelming 
military force, and was met by no threat of 
physical resistance from within. Nor were there control- 
ling influences to be counted on such as monarchy has 
without commonly to face. Of political assemblies 

check or the popular passed speedily away, and 

balance. Senate became the instrument of his will, 

consisting chiefly of his nominees, and never asserting 
the right of independent action. There was no power of 
privilege to face him, such as orders of nobility and cor- 
porations have claimed and held in other states. There 
was no powerful civil service or bureaucracy, such as can 
thwart while seeming to obey, and afford a potent but 
impalpable resistance even to a despots will. There was 
no sentiment of public morality or national pride that he 
might not dare to outrage, for the people of Rome were a 
mixed rabble, swollen rapidly by slaves who had gained 
the boon of freedom, and recruited from every race under 
the sun. The men of dignity and moral worth might 
frown or shudder when Caligula played mad pranks and 
Nero acted on the public stage ; but their displeasure 
mattered little if the populace were merry and the army 
loyal. Religion itself had no counteracting force, for at 
Rome it was a matter more of formal observance than of 
moral faith. It was not organized in outward forms to 
balance the authority of the civil power, and by a curious 
anomaly the Emperor was at once the highest functionary 
of the state religion, as supreme pontiff, and was also soon 
to be deified and to become the object of the veneration 
of the world. 



I7S 


Position of the Emperor, 

It was a system of unqualified despotism, without 
ministry, nobles, church, or parliaments, such as it is 
impossible to parallel, such as was likely to produce the 
best and worst of governors, according as men were 
sobered by the responsibilities or maddened by the license 
of absolute power. 

From the imperial will there was no escape. The Em- 
peror might and did commonly obse ve the constitutional 
forms and act on the sentence of the courts of 
law, or he might dispense with such tedious no escape 
formalities and send a quiet message to bid a Emperor's 
man set his house in order or let his veins be 
opened in a bath. A few soldiers could carry the death 
warrant to the greatest of his subjects in a far-off land, 
and execute it in the midst of his retainers. There seemed 
no hope of flight, for only barbarians or deserts lay beyond 
the Roman world. But in return there was 
no escape for the Emperor himself. He could 
not weary of the cares of state and lay his burden down 
in peace. There was no cloistered calm for him like that 
which Christian princes have sometimes found. He could 
not abdicate in favour of his natural successor; he must 
rule on, to be the mark for the dagger of every malcon- 
tent and see a possible rival and successor in every great 
man or military chief. 

The Emperor’s power, again, was based on physical 
force. It rested on no sanctions of religion, noble birth, 
immemorial usage, or definite election, for it 
was of revolutionary origin and took its very was Kd^on 
title from the power of the sword. Yet after 
Julius the early Emperors were not men of his policy 
war, and had no military policy or ambition, moniy not 
They had everything to lose and nothing 
seemingly to gain from war. The balance of the Empire 
might be lost while the chief was on the distant froa- 



176 The Earlier Empire. 

tier, and a successful general might prove a dangerous 
usurper. 

They seldom even saw the armies, for these were far 
away upon the borders, and at home there 

Little police 1 • 1 1 i- , . t 

force was SO little need of armed repression that 

needed. ^ handful of the city watch and a few thou- 

sand of the household troops sufficed for the police of all 
the central countries of the Empire. Municipal self-rule 
kept the towns contented; and though the nationalities 
had lost their ancient freedom they seldom showed a 
wish to strike a blow to win it back. In Rome itself the 
old nobility was little to be feared. They had no power- 
ful following of clients or retainers, no rallying cry nor 
hold upon the imaginations of the masses; and their 
feelings might be outraged, their fortunes pillaged with 
impunity, if only the populace could be kept in cheerful 
humour and the prsetorians and legions did not stir. 


CHAPTER XIII. 

THE RIGHTS OF ROMAN CITIZENSHIP. 

The vast multitudes gathered within the walls of Rome 
were a motley assemblage of every class and race. 
The 'tizens proscription, and imperial jealousy had 

of Rome a thinned the numbers of the old families of 
mixed race. p^j.^ descent, and many of the great historic 
names had already disappeared ; but early under the Re- 
public complaints were made by the Italians that the 
attractions of the capital were draining the country towns of 
their inhabitants, and for centuries there had been a steady 



‘fhe Rights of Roinan Citizenship. i*jj 

influx of provincials of every race; while the slaves of the 
wealthy households, gaining frequently their freedom after 
a few years of bondage, passed into the class of libertmi^ 
and left children to recruit every order of the state. There 
were still differences of legal status left between the 
children of the full citizen and of the freed slave, but the 
lines that parted them became gradually fainter. 

But in what did the status of the citizen consist, and 
how far did the Empire modify the rights and privileges 
of the franchise ? Of the civil law we need not speak. 
The rights of family life and property were specially de- 
termined by the old Jus Privatum and only 
slowly changed by an admixture of equity 
from the Praetors’ Edicts, and by an infusion 
of the wider spirit of Greek philosophy. The political 
privileges of citizenship were more directly modified. 

1. Of these the earliest and most distinctive, the right 
of voting in the popular assemblies, became an idle form 
and passed away. After a few years the j.jussuf- 
Comitia ceased to meet to pass laws or elect fragii. 
magistrates, for no representative system had been de- 
vised to collect the votes of millions scattered over the 
municipia of the whole Empire, and no statesman could 
regret the loss of the turbulent meetings of the Roman 
rabble which had disgraced the last century of the Re- 
public. 

2. The jus honorum^ or right to hold official rank, 
was still real and valued. It had not been an integral 
part of the Roman franchise in the earliest ^ 

days of the distinction between the patres honorum. 
and the piebs. It did not always go with it in later 
times, for we read in Tacitus the speech of Claudius in 
the Senate when some of the nobles of Gallia Comata 
pleaded for the right of office. 

3. The right of appeal to the popular assembly, or 

A,H. N 



178 


The Earlier Empire, 


provocatio ad popuhini^ in capital trials, was a highly- 

3. Right of prized defence against the magistrate’s caprice, 
appeal. sccurcd by the Valerian law, enlarged by the 
veto of the tribunes, and reinforced by the Sempronian 
law of C. Gracchus. But the Emperor now stepped into 
the place of both tribune and Comitia; he was the high 
court of appeal, and from him there was no flight. 

4. The security from personal outrage or bodily chas- 
tisement which the Porcian laws provided had empha- 

4. immu- sized the difference of dignity between the 
pSonaT Roman and the Latin, and continued in im- 
vijience. perial days to be the constitutional right of 
every citizen, of Paul of Tarsus as of the inhabitants of 
Rome. 

5. The power of voluntary exile, of leaving Rome be- 
fore trial in the law-courts or the Comitia, to live in some 

allied community, became meaningless from 
5 * this time. The Emperor’s hand could reach 

as well to Rhodes or to Massilia as to Tibur or Aricia, 
and the exiles of whom we read henceforth had been 
banished to inhospitable rocks for the most part by the 
sentence of the Senate or the courts, or sometimes by a 
message from the palace. 

6. Freedom of speech and writing had been left large, 
but not unrestricted, by the Commonwealth. Scurrilous 

lampoons had been made penal by the Twelve 
of speech”' Tables, and the jealousy of an oligarchy dealt 
and writing, harshly now and then with petulant criticism. 
But orators in the Forum and the law-courts used the 
utmost license of invective. Augustus was careful at the 
first to do little to abridge such freedom, and to let men 
find in talk the safety-valve of passionate feeling. But 
when his temper grew soured with age, and the Empire 
seemed more firmly planted, he became more jealous of 
his dignity, and the formidable ‘ Laws of Treason ’ were ex- 



The Rights of Roman Citizenship, 179 

tended to cover words as well as acts. Spies and informers 
started up to report unwary utterances and garble social 
gossip. The praises of a Cato or a Brutus might cost 
the historian his life, an epigram against a favourite be 
avenged by his imperial master, and Lucan be driven to 
conspire when his verses had given umbrage to the tyrant. 
There was as yet no censorship of the press, no means of 
seizing some thousand copies of a journal before it had 
appeared for sale, no way of warping or poisoning the 
public mind by official lies and comments. Yet such 
freedom as was left lived by sufferance only, and des- 
potism needed only more spies and agents and a more 
centralized machinery to be terribly oppressive. 

7. Religious liberty was little meddled with as yet. 
Polytheism is naturally a tolerant and elastic creed, and 
a niche might be found for almost any deity Reiigiom 
in the Pantheon of the Roman ruler. Atheism liberty, 
itself was safe, for the state religion was a matter of 
forms and observances rather than of thought. If jealousy 
was shown towards any creed or worship by the states- 
men, it was towards such as were exclusive and aggres- 
sive, like the Jewish and the Christian, leading, as they 
seemed to do, to turbulence and disrespect for estab- 
lished powers ; or towards such as were linked with 
sacerdotal claims, like that of the Druids, which might 
foster national memories and come between the masses 
and the Roman rulers ; or towards such as seemed of too 
extravagant and mystical a type, outraging sober reason 
or acting as hotbeds of secret societies and clubs. 

8. The right of meeting was largely used under the 
Republic. The contiones or mass-meetings of the streets 
were addressed by every great party leader 3^ 

in his turn, and no government had tried to assembly, 
put them down, except when they met by night in secret 
or led to open riotings. More permanent unions, called 



1 8 o The Earlier Empire. 

partnerships, clubs, guilds, and colleges, weie freely 
formed, and most of these were recognised by law, and 
only interfered with when, at the end of the Republic, 
their machinery was thought to be abused by political 
wirepullers and electioneering agents. Warned by such 
experience, the earlier Csesars looked at such clubs with 
a watchful and suspicious eye, put down the newly-formed 
and barely tolerated the older. They feared, it seems, 
centres of attraction for the discontented, and secret 
societies that might meet under cover of a harmless 
name. But before long the restrictions were relaxed. 
Inscriptions show that vast numbers of such unions 
existed all over the Roman Empire, claiming on their 
face a legal sanction, connected with every variety of 
trade and interest, and recruited mainly from the lowest 
ranks — often, like the provident clubs of later times, with 
occasional meetings for good cheer. Formal history is 
almost silent on their humble interests, but the monu- 
mental evidence is full and clear. 

9. The citizens of Rome claimed and enjoyed one 
further privilege, which the franchise did not elsewhere 
9 carry with it. This was the right to food, 

food. From early ages the Government had bought 

up large quantities of corn to distribute freely or below 
cost price, or had fixed a maximum of price in harder 
times. C. Gracchus was the first to systematize the prac- 
tice and let every household have its monthly allowance 
from the state at a sum far below its value. This was 
to be the Roman’s salary for the trouble of governing the 
world. The step could never be retraced, though Sulla 
tried in vain to do so ; the price was even lowered, and 
the corn was at last freely given. The first Emperors 
saw the dangerous effects of this — the discouragement to 
honest industry, the temptation to the idle and improvi- 
dent to flock to Rome, the burden on the treasury of the 



Life m the Provinces, 


i8i 

state — but they dared not give it up, lest the malcontents 
should find a rival and a rallying cry ; so they were con- 
tent to scrutinize the claims and reduce the number to 
the narrowest limits and to confine it to the poorer of the 
inhabitants of Rome. 

It was in this seemingly unlike our Poor Law system, 
that it did not at first at least imply as a matter of course 
the extremest poverty, for a noble Piso came, we read, to 
take his dole, saying that if the state was so reckless with 
its money he would have his share with the rest. It was 
unlike the French Socialises * right to labour,^ urged of 
late years with so much vehemence, for it set a premium 
on vicious indolence and made the Romans the pen- 
sioners of the world. 


CHAPTER XIV. 

LIFE IN THE PROVINCES. 

The Republic had bequeathed to the imperial govern- 
ment the greatest possible variety of political conditions 
throughout the different provinces. As in 
personal status there were many intermediate variety of 
positions between slavery and full Roman statuHrithe 
citizenship, so there were many stages of pri- 
vilege and power between a humble village large ^ount 
community and the mistress city. During of self-rule, 
her long period of conquest Rome had never tried to act 
on any uniform system. As state after state had 
been annexed she allowed the conquering general, 
with the help of a commission or instructions from 
the Senate, to define the political conditions of the 
country, and to lay down the lex provincia. The object of 



1 82 The Earlier Empire, 

this was mainly to fix the amount of tithe and tribute, to 
map out the countries newly won into assize districts for 
the courts of justice, and to give or to withhold special 
privileges in the case of those who had been most marked 
as friends or foes. But the Roman statesmen were 
always tolerant of local customs, and had no wish for 
uniformity of system. They broke up, indeed, the poli- 
tical unions or federations which had been strong and 
might still be dangerous, but they respected the old forms 
of national life, and let their subjects manage their affairs 
for the most part as they pleased. Each country lived 
its separate life, with varying usages that had been slowly 
shaped in the course of ages, and every part of it enjoyed 
a large measure of self-government. Where the towns 
were all-important, as in states affected by Greek and 
Latin culture, there the old names and institutions lin- 
gered undisturbed. In Gaul the tribes kept something of 
their federal character, and the old name for the capital 
of each union outlived in many cases the one of Roman 
origin, as that of the Reini lives on still in Rheims. In 
Egypt the political unit was the Nome, and the laws of 
Ptolemy were still respected, as those of Hiero were in 
Sicily. The old Greek names of Archon and of Demarch 
often lingered on beside the official titles that were of 
Latin source. 

The cities of the highest rank were ColonicB of 
Mun/cip/a, whose citizens had either carried with them 
to new homes or enjoyed by special boon the privi- 
leges of the full Roman franchise. To this class belonged 
all the towns in Italy and Sicily and some few in the 
provinces. Next in order came the towns of Latin rights 
unconnected usually with the Latin race, but promoted to 
the rank which Rome’s nearest neighbours and allies had 
once enjoyed. Here and there, too, were privileged cities 
enjoying by the bounty of Rome the rights of freedom 



Life in the Provinces, 183 

and immunity from taxes as guaranteed by special 
treaty, and called on that account free or federate cities. 
Below these came the mass of stipendiary towns, subject 
to tax and tithe at the discretion of the Roman rulers, 
but administered by their own magistrates and little 
meddled with by the central government. Around each 
of these were often grouped a number of villages^ cantons^ 
haynlets^ called by various names, and more or less de- 
pendent on the central town, of whose territory they 
formed a part, and by whose magistrates they were ad- 
ministered. Sometimes, too, wilder mountain regions 
were annexed in this way to the nearer towns, through 
which a civilizing influence might be brought to bear 
upon their ruder neighbours. In general, however, there 
was no marked distinction between town and country 
life, as landowners and farmers were grouped together 
for mutual defence, and lived within easy reach of the 
community whose civil rights they shared. 

The ancient writers seldom speak directly about social 
life in any town but Rome. It lay outside the plan of 
formal history; its details were too well known ^ ^ ^ 

to call for comment, and the national comedy, rerKeU^ 
which must have thrown most light upon it, is [he'^Hfe oV° 
now quite lost to us. The literary men could the provin- 
not live happily save in the capital. Though 
Juvenal speaks with bitterness of the trials of the poor 
client’s life, yet he still trudged wearily about the streets 
to pay his court to his rich patrons, and kept his garret 
rather than move to the healthy country towns where 
life was cheap. Martial spent thirty years of meanness 
as a needy parasite of fashionable circles, catering for 
their appetite for scandalous talk, and selling for a paltry 
dole his wit, his gaiety, and his licentious fancy ; and 
when he went at last to his little town in Spain whose 
calm he had long sighed for, he spoke of it with disgust 



1 84 The Earlier Empire. 

and weariness, and longed to be back at Rome again. 
Statius, again, grew tired of the city, where in spite of his 
poetic fame he could only get a miserable pittance by 
dwelling on the virtues of Domitian, and he determined 
to go back to his native Naples ; but his wife was deaf to 
all his praises of the country, and preferred the Suburra 
and the crowded streets to the baths of Baiae and the 
beauties of the charming bay. We cannot expect, there- 
fore, to find in these writers much about the course of 
that provincial life which was so distasteful to them. Our 
knowledge on the subject is drawn mainly from the 
Fuller ^ inscriptions on stone and bronze of which so 
the^nscrip- ^t^ny have been found in different countries, 
tions. From this source we may trace the efforts 

made to regulate the condition of the miinicipia^ and to 
fix some uniform principles for the government of the 
most favoured communities throughout the Empire. 
Thus, fragments have been found of what was probably 
the Lex Julia Municipalise passed to regulate the choice 
of town councils and their magistrates. Two other laws 
found near Malaga a few years back date from Domitian, 
and go still more into detail about the constitutional 
features of the Spanish towns, from which they take theii 
names ; and a third, discovered still more recently in the 
same country, has furnished further evidence. Much may 
be learnt also from the funeral inscriptions, though in- 
deed we should not glean much information of the kind 
from the graveyards of our own times. But the old epi- 
taphs seldom fail to note the local titles and honours of 
the dead, and tell us much incidentally of the nature of 
their rank and offices that would be otherwise unknown 
to us. To these, too, must be added the formal eulogies, 
the votes of honour, the thankofferings and words of dedi- 
cation, the records of the guilds and corporations, which, 
after being buried from sight and thought for ages, have 
been found in course of time in a rapidly increasing 



Life in the Provmces, 185 

stole. A whole city, too, Pompeii, has risen from the 
grave, to show us not merely the houses and the streets 
in which men lived and died under the early Empire, but 
the words even which their hands had traced, sometimes 
in stately inscriptions on their public monuments, some- 
times in advertisements roughly sketched upon the walls, 
sometimes in the scribblings of schoolboys or the care- 
less scrawls by which the idle whiled away their time, 
and wrote out for all to read the story of their jests and 
loves and hates. 

In the towns of the highest class the powers of ad- 
ministration were vested in a few magistrates, who held 
office only for a year. The chief of these The fexecu- 
filled the place of the consuls or prsetors 
of old times, and were styled from their juridicundo; 
judicial functions duumviri juri dicundo^ being also 
presidents of the town councils. Below them were the 
two cediles, who, as at Rome, had a variety of 
police functions and the care of the streets, * ’ 

markets, and public monuments. Sometimes the com- 
prehensive term quattuor viri juri die undo was used to 
include both of the classes above named. There were 
also in the larger towns two qucBstors to be 
treasurers of the public funds and control the * 

statements of accounts. It was usual to take the cen- 
sus every five years throughout the Empire, and in the 
days of the Republic it had been the duty of the censors 
to preside over the work, and to carry it through with 
becoming ceremony and religious pomp. The Emperor 
took the censor’s place at Rome, and no special officers 
or commissions were appointed for the purpose in the 
provinces, but the duumvirs of the year were charged to 
make all the entries of personal and real estate within the 
course of sixty days, and to send copies of the registers to 
the central record office. To mark the importance of 



1 86 The Earlier Empire, 

the functions the honorary term of qtiinquennalis was 
quinquen- added to the official title of duumvir, and 
nalcs. as such appears often on the funeral in- 

scriptions. It was the more prized as it carried with it 
also the duty of drawing up the list of the town council- 
lors, as the censors had to do for the Roman Senate. 

The council, or ordo decurionu7n^ consisted of the ex- 
The town magistrates and others of local dignity and 
wealth, subject only to a few conditions stated 
onum. in the municipal laws that have been found, 

such as those which shut out from office convicted thieves 
and bankrupts, or men engaged in trades regarded as dis- 
creditable, like the gladiator, auctioneer, and undertaker, 
A minimum of age and income was also fixed, but it was 
one that varied at different times and places. 

A lucky accident has preserved for us the album 
decurio7ium^ or roll of the town council, in two different 
cases. At the head we find a number of titular patroniy 
for it was the usage of the towns to connect themselves 
if possible with members of influential families at Rome, 
who might watch over their interests, and also to confer 
the honorary name on the most eminent of the local 
notabilities. At the end of the register came the names 
of some prcetextaiiy or young men of high family, who 
were allowed to be present at the meetings of the council 
and train themselves for public life by hearing the de- 
bates. The councillors themselves managed most of the 
affairs of public interest, voted their local taxes, controlled 
the expenditure of their funds, made grants for public 
buildings, conferred honours, immunities, and pensions, 
and watched over the ceremonials of religion. 

But the popular assemblies of the citizens had not 
Popular yet, as at Rome, become a nullity. In the 

sST met for inscriptions we can still read of the votes that 

business. had passed ‘ with the approval of the 

people.' The municipal laws of the two Spanish towns, 



Life in the Provinces. 187 

which may be fairly taken as types of the whole class, 
' give full details of the mode in which the magistrates were 
named in public and voted for openly in all the city wards. 
The election placards posted on the houses of Pompeii 
show that the popular contests were very real and the 
excitement strong. At times even the women longed to 
air their sympathies ; and though they could not vote they 
scrawled the names of their favourite candidates upon 
the walls. Sometimes party spirit was carried to such 
dangerous lengths that the Emperors were called upon 
to interfere and name a special pra^fect to take the place 
of the magistrate who could not be chosen peacefully. 

If these municipal offices were hotly coveted it was only 
for the honour and not for any substantial advantages 
which they carried with them. Their holders guch offices 
received no salaries, as did the agents of the were burden- 

. . 11,1 • .some rather 

imperial government, nor had they lucrative than lucra- 
patronage at their disposal. Their main 
privilege was rather that of ruining themselves to please 
the citizens. They had first to pay a sort of entrance- 
fee on taking office; they had to regale the populace 
on the day after their election with at least cake and 
wine, and often with more costly fare. The town coun- 
cillors too expected a state dinner on a lordly scale ; 
a present of varying amount was looked for by the mem- 
bers of every guild and corporation, and often by the 
citizens in general. The people grumbled bitterly if they 
were not amused by shows of gladiators or well-ap- 
pointed plays. To secure re-election it was often need- 
ful to spend great sums on public works, such as roads, 
aqueducts, and temples ; and, finally, to win the grati- 
tude of future generations men often willed away large 
sums, the interest of which was to feed, amuse, or shelter 
for all time the citizens of the favoured town. 

In the less privileged communities throughout the 



1 88 


The Earlier Empire. 


Greater 
variety &f 
conditions in 
the less 
favoured 
towns, and 
large 

amount of 
self-rule. 


provinces there was more variety of conditions, for the 
old institutions lasted on with the same names 
and many of the same forms as before the 
Roman conquest. The agents of the central 
government had a larger control over their 
actions, especially in matters of finance and 
jurisdiction, and their consent was needed in 
all questions of moment. But they were too few in 
number to look much into details, and the towns retained 
everywhere a large measure of self-government. 

Municipal freedom prevailed perhaps more widely 
than at any other period. Local senates met in council, 
Public spirit ^"^^^^^strates were chosen by popular election, 
and munifi- and patriotism, though confined within nar- 
cence. range, was still intense. The inscrip- 

tions which are found in every part of the old Roman 
world, as well as the ruins of the great works which here 
and there are left, show us how real and widespread was 
the public spirit. The citizens vied with each other in 
their outlay for the public good. Temples, aqueducts, 
baths, theatres, guildhalls, triumphal arches rose on all 
sides, not at the expense of the whole society, but by the 
beneficence of the wealthy and the generous. 

Augustus set the example first, and urged his friends 
and courtiers to make a show of munificence in public 
works, and other Emperors were anxious to add to the 
pomp and brilliancy of the imperial rigime. The weal- 
The attrac- thy and the noble copied the fashion of the 
Rom^^ which spread from Rome to the furthest 

culture. provinces, from the city to the village. But 
the spirit of imitation reached much further. Roman life 
was a centre of attraction for the world, and exerted a 
levelling and centralizing influence before which local 
usages and manners passed rapidly away. The ruder 
races were drawn irresistibly towards the customs of 



Life in the Provinces, 1 89 

cheir conquerors. Their own chiefs tried in vain to 
check the movement. Roman pride put barriers in their 
way, and agreed at times to refuse the franchise and the 
speech of Italy to the new-comers, but in vain. The 
leaven of the Roman culture spread among them, and their 
national usages and laws and even their language tended 
rapidly to disappear. The wiser Emperors respected 
jealously the local liberties and traditions, and had no 
wish, in the first century at least, to carry out a uniform 
system. But Roman influence spread through many 
channels. The legions, as they passed along the roads or 
remained encamped upon the frontier, acted on the men 
with whom they were in daily contact. I'he traders who 
followed in their train carried with their wares the speech, 
thought, and customs of the central city. The governors 
and financial agents who came direct from Rome brought 
the newest fashions with them to dazzle the higher circles 
of the country towns, and gave the tone to social inter- 
course, The journals of Rome, or acta as they were 
called, were read in far-off provinces ; the latest epigram 
passed from mouth to mouth ; the finest passages of the 
orators of note, the latest poems of a Martial, travelled 
either in the governors train or were dispatched in re- 
gular course of trade as literary wares to the provincial 
booksellers. 

As at Rome, the lower orders soon learnt to expect 
amusements ready-made, looked to the wealthy and 
munificent to give them shows and costly xhc liberal 
spectacles, and grumbled at their magis- 
trates if they were not liberal enough, or if enedtfie 
they seemed to think too much of what they J^goVcra- 
gave. But commonly they were ready with “ent 
their tlianks ; and if the largess had been generous and 
if the gladiators died with becoming grace, the grateful 
people passed a vote of thanks, or made the council pass 



1 90 The Earlier Empire, 

it, decided to erect a statue in their benefactor’s hon our, 
but, as the inscriptions tell us, often let him pay for it 
himself. Liberalities such as these must have materially 
lightened the expenses of the local government. With 
no salaries for the chief officials and no costly civil 
service to keep up, no schools nor paupers to maintain 
out of the rates, and with so many examples of muni- 
ficence among the citizens, the burdens of municipal 
taxation could not have been heavy. The towns had 
commonly some revenues from lands or mines or forests ; 
religion was endowed with its own funds, and the claims 
of the imperial treasury were moderate. 

At the end of the Republic the burdens caused by 
war and confiscation, the merciless exactions of the 
General governors, and the cancer of usury had 
well-being. spread bankruptcy and ruin throughout the 
provinces; but in the course of the first ccntuiy of the 
Empire peace and order and settled rule had caused 
a widely-diffused comfort; the freedom of self-govern- 
ment secured contentment ; and public spirit, feeble as it 
seemed in the ruling city, was lively and vigorous else- 
where. 

The great boon of the imperial system to the world 
was the higher conduct of its agents as compared with 
Justcr rule that of the proconsuls and propraetors of the 
provincial Republic. They were paid high salaries di- 
govemors. rectly from the state; they needed not to ruin 
themselves by bribery and shows to win their places; 
they were watched by a financial agent of the govern- 
ment, and liable to a strict account at Rome before the 
Emperor, who had no interest, like their peers, in their 
acquittal. 

It is true that if we think only of the numerous cases 
of extortion and misrule which we meet with in the pages 
of Tacitus we may believe there is little proof of better 



Life in the Provinces, loi 

Ihingrs. But the evidences of juster rule are real and solid 
Oppression had been scarcely thought a stain upon the 

characters of the statesmen of the Republic ; „ . . 

^ EvidenoM 

but now even the sensualist and debauchee of improve- 
often seems to change his nature when he is 
weighted with the responsibilities of office. Petronius, 
Otho, and Vitellius redeem in part the infamy of earlier 
days by their clean-handed integrity in the purer air of a 
provincial government. The very frequency of the trials 
for misrule, which may startle us at first, is in itself a 
proof of the watchfulness of the central power, which was 
as vigilant with Domitian as with Augustus. The abuses 
of ages could not be swept away at once, and it must have 
needed time and vigour to convince men that the Empire 
was in earnest in the matter. The provincials them- 
selves soon recognized the difference, and their literature 
speaks far more strongly on the subject than the Roman. 
Philo the Alexandrian, Josephus the Jew of Palestine, 
Strabo the geographer of Pontus, Plutarch the Greek, 
Epictetus the Phrygian philosopher, bear emphatic witness 
to the higher spirit of equity and moderation in their 
rulers. Countries not long subjugated show no wish to 
assert their freedom, though the legions stationed in 
their midst are mainly recruited from their own inhabit- 
ants, and become fixed to the soil which they defend and 
strangers to the Emperor whose name they bear. 

The results, too, speak loudly for themselves. The 
impoverished cities of Asia raised themselves at once 
when the incubus of the republican governors 
was removed. There, as in other countries, prosperity, 
the inscriptions abound in eviden ce of real prosperity 
The cities adorned themselves with stately buildings; 
the rich, no longer afraid to show their wealth, used it 
with lavish generosity. Trade flourished once more when 
the roads were cared for and brigandage and piracy put 



192 


The Earlier Empire. 

down. Commercial guilds spread themselves over the 
world, and even the provident unions of the humblest 
classes gained a recognition and a sanction from the state. 

Men looked only at the present, and forgot that there 
were no guarantees of permanence in the municipal free- 
But no happiness now enjoyed, no lasting 

guarantees gain in the absorption of so many distinct 
ncnceTn Centres of national culture, nothing to give 
goodgovera- independence to the provinces, as 

ment, the federal or national unions had done ; no 

security that the cautious, easy, and tolerant government 
of the present would not be gradually changed into the 
grinding machinery of a centralized despotism. They 
thought of their material blessings, and forgot the moral 
qualities that should make them lasting. They looked back 
with a feeling of relief at the turbulence of former days, at 
the evils done and suffered in the name of liberty, and felt 
with Dion Chrysostom, ‘ Our fathers fought, as they be- 
lieved, for freedom, but really for a phantom of the fancy, 
like the Trojans who fought in defence of Helen when she 
was no longer within their walls.^ 

Thus it was in no mean spirit of flattery that they 
raised in every land statues and altars to the Emperors, 
to some even of the vilest who have ever ruled. Of 
their personal characters they often knew but little ; 
and though dark stories of what had passed at Rome 
may have circulated awhile among the higher classes in 
the provinces, yet the people knew next to nothing of 
their vices and their follies, and thought of them chiefly 
as the symbol of the ruling Providence which throughout 
the civilized world had silenced war and faction and 
secured the blessings of prosperity and peace, before 
unknown. 



193 


CHAPTER XV. 

THE STATE OF TRADE. 

To appreciate the influence of the Empire upon the 
interests of commerce it is needful to look back to some 
of the facts and feelings of earlier days. The The early 
Roman writers speaks commonly with dis- inSusSfai 
favour and contempt of the handicrafts and art at Rome, 
retail trades, and the common sentiment which they re- 
flect seems to have grown more intense in the later ages 
of the Republic, at the very time when the tendency to- 
wards democracy became more marked. While the 
hardy life of the old yeoman was the ideal of the moral- 
ist and patriot, the work of the artizan or tradesman was a 
lasting stain upon a family name. This was due probably 
in part to the warlike and aggressive spirit of the old 
Roman policy, which relied chiefly on its husbandmen 
and shepherds to fill the ranks of its militia, due to the 
while the industrial arts fell into the hands of ^hich 
the needy homeless aliens who were attracted fostered, 
to the city and could not serve among the freemen in the 
armies. The growing contempt for the weaker races of 
Greece and Asia heightened the dislike for the trades they 
filled and the work which they monopolized. But above 
all the vast influx of slave labour that followed the 
career of conquest supplied living tools for every need, 
made manual work seem servile, and rapidly 
drove free labour out of every field. The influx of 
tendency extended even from the industrial labour 
to the fine arts, and to some even of what we call the 
learned professions. The great Roman households had 
highly-educated slaves, who were trained to amuse their 
masters and to satisfy their aesthetic tastes. In old time 
A,//. O 



194 


The Earlier Empire. 


The con- 
tempt ex- 
tended to 
professions 
and the fine 
arts. 


Fabius Pictor had gained a name for skill in paint- 
ing, but it would have been a discredit in a later age ; 
and Pliny tells us of one of gentle birth who was mocked 
at and insulted for taking to the art. Roman dignity, 
says the same writer, will not stoop to practise medicine, 
but leaves it to the Greek and freedman. Slaves were 
trained to be actors on the stage; and much 
as the Romans loved spectacles, they could 
not themselves act without disgrace, ex- 
cept in the old Atellan farces, which, says 
Livy, were never polluted by professional 
actors. Education was mainly in the hands of aliens and 
freedmen, who kept schools under the name of gram- 
marians or rhetoricians, and the same classes also sup- 
plied the copyists, librarians, and secretaries whose useful 
labours furnished the materials that were worked up by 
literary men of note. 

But while the Romans disdained retail trade and 
manual labour, they had not the same dislike for com- 
mercial enterprise upon a larger scale. Soon 
after llie Punic wars we may trace the 
rapid growth of a class of great speculators 
and contractors, who belonged chiefly to the 
second order of the state, the EquiteSy and 
whose objects were more financial than political. 

They followed the movements of the conquering 
armies, engaged to supply the commissariat, formed 
Growth of joint-stock companies for every variety of 
mcrcSim undertaking, farmed the revenues of the 
capitalists, lands annexed to the Roman empire, pro- 
fited by the monopolies of commerce when the old 
federal unions were broken up and trading intercourse 
was suspended between the members, and came for- 
ward as moneylenders to advance the sums to be paid 
down in indemnities or confiscated by the governors’ 


Disdain of 
retail trade 
did not ex- 
tend to com 
merce on a 
larger scale. 



The State of Trade, 195 

greed. At home they lent their money to the bankers, 
or bought up lands in times of cheapness, like Pom- 
ponius Atticus, or had their slaves highly educated 
in industrial arts, or speculated in building-land, like 
Crassus. But their energy was of little profit to the 
world, nor did it further the legitimate interests of trade. 
It enriched Rome, or a few hundreds of its citizens, 
but it impoverished the provinces. It made 
wealth change hands ; but it did not stimulate riched them- 

• • * selves Wltll* 

production or facilitate exchange or promote out benefit 
the growth of peaceful enterprise. The in- to the world, 
fluence of the moneyed aristocracy upon the central 
government had long been very great ; and if trade had 
not been the gainer for it, it was not from lack of power 
on their part, but of will or insight. They could make 
their resentment felt by the few proconsuls who were 
cleanhanded themselves, and who would not stand by and 
see wrong done. They could protect in the Roman courts 
the more criminal and unscrupulous of their body. They 
could in their shortsighted jealousy strike down great 
commercial rivals, as in the case of Carthage, Corinth, and 
Rhodes; but they do not seem to have raised their voices 
to protest while war was destroying or weakening so 
many distinct centres of civilization and production 
throughout Italy, while injudicious taxation and bad 
poor-law systems were injuring industry, and sumptuary 
laws discouraging consumption, while roads were made 
rather for the transport of armies than for the interchange 
of products. They were never so strong a power in the 
state as towards the close of the Republic, when the 
corsairs swept the seas and organized themselves almost 
as a belligerent power, while on the mainland runaway 
slave-bands and professional brigands were infesting the 
highways. 

We may now turn to trace the action of the Em- 

o 2 



196 


The Earlier Empire. 


pire upon these conditions. When Augustus was finally 
seated in his place, it was his first aim to 
Empire did sccure the highroads of commerce, and to 
for trade. maintain safety of intercourse throughout the 
Roman world. He put down brigandage with a strong 
It seen ed appointing special officers to do the 

the roads work and armed patrols to maintain peace 
and seas, Order. Inspectors visited the factories 

and farms in country districts, where the slave-gangs 
toiled in chains, restored to liberty many who had been 
kidnapped by violence, and returned to their masters 
some thirty thousand runaways. The highways were 
made safe for quiet travellers, though the satires and 
romances still speak of brigands from time to time, just 
as they are brought occasionally upon the modem stage. 
On the seas, too, piracy was put down, and almost 
banished for centuries from the Mediterranean, though 
in the Black Sea it was still a matter of complaint. 

It was a greater boon to trade that war was 
confined mainly to the frontiers, among the scarcely 
confi d civilized neighbours of the Empire. After 

war to the Ncro’s death, indeed, great armies tramped 

frontiers, across the central countries, spreading havoc 

and desolation in their track, but with this exception 
the soldiers were confined to border camps, and no fatal 
check was given by the horrors of war to peaceful enter- 
prise and industry. 

By a series of further measures the Empire did its 
best to remove checks and hindrances to the activity of 
removed a Commerce. The careful survey and census 
che^L^nd Roman world under Augustus was one 

hindmnees, step to prepare the way for equalized taxa- 
tion, and it was followed by others as important. Fi- 
nancial agents were watchfully controlled ; legalized tariffs 
of the tolls and dues were made stricter to resist vexa- 



The State of Trade. 197 


tious overcharge, while the courts of law administered more 
impartial justice between the official and the common 
subject. The old sumptuary laws which aimed at check- 
ing luxury and extravagance were given up after a short 
trial and regarded as a mischievous anachronism. The 
endless variety of monetary systems which delayed easy 
intercourse between land and land soon ceased to incon- 
venience the world. Many of them disappeared, others 
were kept for local use or retail trade ; but by their side 
one uniform standard was set up, and beyond all the 
various national coinages the imperial currency was the 
legalized tender which appears henceforth in official docu- 
ments in all parts of the Roman world. 

Still more direct was the influence on sentiment 
which affected the social estimate of industrial art. 
Slavery had been the formidable rival of free labour; 
but the countries which in earlier times had diminished 


supplied the most serviceable tools were JfJe supply of 
now annexed, and only an outer fringe of slave labour, 
barbarians was left to supply the slave markets by 
wars of conquest. The Northern nations furnished 
less pliant and docile labourers, whose work was far 
less lucrative than that of Greeks and Asiatics. As 


the sources of supply were being cut off, the fashion of 
enfranchisement set in, and the slave-born were set free 


so rapidly that laws had to be passed to check the 


growing custom. At the very time when the compe- 
tition of slave labour was reduced, less scope was left to 
enterprise in what had been before absorbing interests. 
The old game of war gave fewer prizes, and lessened the 
the soldier^s life seemed likely to be hence- of war and^ 
forth one of monotony and patient drill, politics 
The statesman's career was less tempting to ambition 
when the show of talent might be dangerous and stir the 
jealousy of Caesar. The laurels of the orator soon faded 



198 The Earlier Empire. 

when power passed out of the Senate’s hands, and when the 
pleadings of the law-courts had no influence on the course 
of public life. But in the place of these interests of the 
Republic the early Emperors had tried to foster industry 
and learning. Julius gave the grant of citizenship to all 
who would practise liberal professions ; Au- 
gustus encouraged literary labour through 
Maecenas ; and Nero, the artist-prince, weak- 
ened the old sentiment in other branches. 
In short we soon lose all traces of the feeling 
which prompted Cicero in his public speeches to disguise 
his familiar knowledge of the culture and the arts of 
Greece. 

The currents of national sentiment could no longer 
flow in separate channels, as men of every people flocked 
. - r to Rome. In Asia handicrafts and indus- 
Eastern trial labour had never been despised, and the 
sentiment. gradual infusion of Eastern thought weakened 
the supercilious pride of Western prejudice. Something 
too was directly done by Augustus to give a higher status 
to the industrial classes. A new office and badge of 
dignity was devised by the appointment of 
the ^ Masters of the Streets,’ a large number 
of whom were taken from among the artisans 
and freedmen of the city, to discharge cer- 
tain police duties, and also to minister as 
priests in the little chapels raised in honour 
of the Genius of Rome and of the ruling Emperor. 
Guilds answering probably to this office spread, under the 
name of Augustales, through the towns, and helped to give 
organized force and self-respect to retail trade and manual 
labour. 

It is still, indeed, a striking fact that there is no 
reference in Latin literature to any history of trade ; nor 
do we hear of special treatises connected with the subject, 
though the works on agriculture were many. Nothing 


The higher 
status given 
to industrial 
classes 
tl^ough the 
dignity of 
magistri 
vicorum. 


The Em- 
perors fa- 
voured the 
higher 
branches of 
industrial 
art. 



The State of Trade, 199 

}« said of the moral benefits of international commerce , 
nor, careful as the Romans were about statis- 
tics, did they connect them with the balance literal 
of supply and of demand. Yet under cover of 
the imperial r^ghne a vast system of free trade free trade 
began to flourish, such as the world perhaps 
has seldom known. Merchant fleets passed peacefully 
from land to land and exchanged the products of their 
different climates, while the central government was 
content to keep the police of sea and land, allowing tolls 
and harbour dues to be levied for purposes of local revenue, 
and watching over the corn trade with especial care, 
that the markets of the capital might be alw.ays stocked. 
But this trade was hampered with no theories of pro- 
tection, and was not interfered with by commercial or navi- 
gation laws The vast population gathered in one city re- 
quired, of course, an enormous retail trade upon the spot ; 
but there were few manufactories upon a large scale near 
Rome. The necessaries of life came largely from the 
South and West, the luxuries from the East, while indus- 
trial wares were brought for the most part ready-made, 
owing to the greater cheapness of labour in other coun- 
tries. The balance of trade was always ^ ^ 
against Italy, for she failed to supply herself trade againtt 
even with food, exported little beside wine 
and oil, and had few great manufacturing centres. In old 
days the riches that had been gained by plunder and ex- 
tortion went out again to seek investment in the pro- 
vinces ; but now that Rome was the queen of fashion and 
the centre of attraction for the wealthy of all countries, 
the realized fortunes came thither to be spent. The 
productive centres and the hives of industry were to be 
found in other lands — at Alexandria, which Strabo calls 
the greatest emporium of the world ; at the flourishing 
marts of trade among the isles of the iEgean ; or among 



200 


The Earlier Empire, 

the hundred cities of Asia Minor, whose industrial demo- 
cracies had soon recovered from the pillage and mis- 
government of republican proconsuls, and enjoyed a mag- 
nificent prosperity, with which no other land could vie. 


CHAPTER XVl. 

THE GROWING DEPOPULATION OF ITALY AND GREECE. 

Among all these evidences of material well-being there 
were ominous signs to catch the watchful eye. The 
^ . queen of cities had clothed herself in pomp 

The ominous , , ^ i mi i 

signs of de- And splendour ; and stately villas, parks, 

population. pleasure-grounds were spread over the 

country ; but Italy herself grew poor in men, in moral 
energy, and in natural products. The culture of Greece 
had made its way over the world ; but her cities of re- 
nown were sadly dwindled, and scanty populations lived 
among the ghosts of former glories. The heart of the 
Strabo's Empire was growing more feeble, though 

account of the extremities were sound. Strabo, who 
Greece. travelled in Greece early in this period, gives 
in his geography a melancholy list of ruined and deserted 
towns, .^tolia and Acarnania were exhausted ; Doris has 
no trace of her ancient peoples. Thebes was a poor vil- 
lage cowering within the walls of the old citadel ; and 
save Tanagra and Thespiae in all Boeotia there were only 
pauperized hamlets. Messenia and Arcadia were deserts. 
Laconia had not men enough to till it, and seventy of the 
hundred townships of old times were quite abandoned. 

As early as the days of the historian Polybius it was 
observed that Italy could no more put into the field 



Depopulation of Italy and Greece. 201 

such forces as she raised in the second Punic war, and 
that not for lack of manhood but of men, Polybius 
The Gracchi not long after called public 
notice to the fact of the decreasing numbers military 
of free labourers in the country, and tried to itaiy. 
check the evil by sweeping changes in the 

Gracchi 

tenure of land. Again in the first years 
of the Empire complaints mingled with alarm are heard 
on every side. Livy speaks with wonder of Remarks of 
the armies that fought in old time upon Livy, 
the battlefields of Latium, and says that in his day 
only a few slaves tenanted the lands that were once the 
home of so many hardy warriors. Pliny tells us of more 
than fifty towns in Latium alone that had 
passed away and left no traces, and of the 
ruins of old peoples that the traveller found in every part 
of Central Italy. Dion Cassius mentions the Dion 
‘terrible depopulation^ which Julius Caesar Cassius, 
noted with concern, and the difficulty which Augustus 
found in levying troops to fill up the void made by the 
loss of Varus and his legions ; while Pliny tells us of the 
grief and wounded pride which the same Emperor felt 
when he enlisted slaves in place of free men. 

The stress which Augustus laid upon the remedies 
which he applied shows how urgent seemed the evil. He 
reduced, and would have limited still further Attempts of 
had he dared, the number of the paupers on ^“et^the^ 
the free list of the state, to check if possible cviL 
the drain upon the public funds and the great dis- 
couragement to industry. He drafted ofi' his veterans 
into colonies and bought them lands in every part of 
Italy to recruit with healthy labour the decaying muni- 
cipia. He provided an outlet even for the city populace, 
supplying them with land in settlements beyond the sea. 
Finding among the higher and middle classes a wide- 



204 Earlier Empire. 

4. The free population that had been driven from 
the fields betook themselves to the army or the city. 

Attraction doles of com, the frequent largesses, 

of town life the shows and gaieties attracted to the 
!^emeSsto Crowded streets and alleys thousands who 
industry. were too indolent to work but not ashamed 
to beg, and who could contribute nothing to the pro- 
ductive energies of the world. The country towns copied 
Rome as far as their means allowed, and attracted the 
idlers and improvident who lived upon the bounty of the 
rich. Tlie veterans who had been sent out as colonists 
to settle in the deserted regions wearied often of the 
irksome restraint of the unwonted work, mortgaged or 
sold their httle farms, and gradually came back to swell 
the numbers of the dissolute and needy populace, and 
lived as paupers on the pittance of the state. 

5. To these causes must be added the untoward 
influence of luxury, profligacy, and crime. Polybius noted 

, „ the physical effects of the foreign customs 

5. Influence , i- /- 

of vice and that were spreading fast among the young 
profligacy. ruling classcs, and pointed to it 

as a symptom of decline. The moralists and satirists 
of later days were full of passionate complaints of the 
luxury which they saw around them. These rapid changes 
broke down the moral safeguards of the past and gave 
free vent to morbid appetites. The spread of ease and 
license discouraged honest industry and weakened hardi- 
hood and strength of body. The sumptuous mansions of 
the wealthy, the fishponds, bird-farms, and deer-parks 
which reared luxuries for Roman tables, absorbed unpro- 
ductively the capital which might have maintained mul- 
titudes of thriving husbandmen and turned all Italy into 
a garden. The riches of the world had been poured into 
the coffers of the ruling classes, but with little benefit 
to their own country, which grew poorer, while large 



Depopulation of Italy afid Greece, 205 

sums flowed yearly back to pay for the costly wares and 
delicacies of foreign lands. Pliny, as a patriot, laments 
the steady drain of money caused by the silks and jewels 
and spices of the East. But moralists said less of what 
called for far severer censure. Infanticide was widely 
prevalent, sometimes in the form of the destruction of 
unborn life, but more commonly in the exposure of the 
newly-born. It rested with the father to decide if he 
would rear his child, and custom sanctioned the usage of 
exposure, though early laws had tried to limit it to mon- 
strous births. The discretionary power was put in force 
most frequently in the case of female children, and pass- 
ing references in literature show that they were often 
victims. Private charity sometimes reared the found- 
lings, and the inscriptions bear witness to the number of 
such cases, and leave us to imagine how many were ex- 
posed. Polybius had specified this among the causes 
of the dwindling numbers of the Greeks. Tacitus notes 
that the Germans looked upon the act as criminal ; 
but he does so probably to point a moral, and is 
thinking of the vice of Rome. Still the usage lasted 
on under the Empire, and the Christian Tertullian 
brands the heathen of his day with the infamy of the 
practice then continued. In the Eastern provinces the 
usage was less prevalent. Sometimes religious senti- 
ment discountenanced the practice, and often the 
spread of the industrial spirit and the vigour of 
productive energy gave a stimulus to the increase of 
numbers. Material well-being was diffused among the 
teeming populations of the commercial towns in Asia 
Minor, while the patriot mourned over increasing poverty 
in the western cities of the Empire, and the statesman 
had to recruit the legions from the nations most re- 
cently annexed. 



2o6 


The Earlier Empire. 


CHAPTER XVIJ. 

THE FRONTIERS AND THE ARMY. 

The limits of the Roman world in the first century of tne 
Empire were well defined by natural boundaries. It 
Thft frontiers spread from the Atlantic on the west to the 
well defined, Euphrates in the east. The Rhine and the 
^^cce%ed Danube formed its northern frontier ; while 
byAugustus. sandy deserts of Arabia and Africa parted 
it from peoples almost unknown. It had been the special 
work of Augustus to provide an effective barrier against 
the races of the North ; and at the cost of hard fighting, 
and after many dangerous campaigns, Pannonia, Nori- 
cum and Maesia were finally subdued and the Roman 
arms were carried to the Danube. Nearer home the 
tribes that held the passes of the Western Alps were 
crushed after obstinate resistance, and many thousands 
of them sold into hopeless slavery, that the great roads 
leading to Gaul might be secured. In Germany tribe 
after tribe had been attacked, and Roman influence had 
been pushed forward to the Elbe ; but the whole country 
rose in arms to crush Varus and his legions, and the 
boundary again receded to the Rhine. No attempt was 
made at conquest in the East. Even Armenia was left 
in seeming independence, and the captured standards of 
Crassus were recovered from the Parthians not by force 
but by diplomacy. Towards the south attempts were 
made to march into ^Ethiopia and Arabia Felix, but heat 
and drought alone were enough to baffle the intruders. 
Such were the frontiers finally accepted by Augustus, and 
recommended by him to his successors. In them, with 
one exception, no great change was made until the time 



The Frofitiers and the Army. *z 07 

of Trajan. But Britain, which had been only visited 
by Julius Caesar, was further attacked, explored, and 
finally subdued in a series of campaigns dating specially 
from the times of Claudius, Nero, and Domitian, and 
thus furnished a sort of training school for the best 
generals of the early Empire. It was part of the policy 
of Augustus to leave a fringe of dependent Dependent 
kingdoms in the countries most recently kingdoms 
annexed, leaving the peoples for a while to the forms of 
native rule, subject only to the payment of tribute or supply 
of soldiers. Of these the monarchy of the Herods furnished 
a well-known example, and many others are known in 
Syria, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Thrace, and Mauretania. But 
one after another, as kings died or dynasties decayed, 
these little kingdoms also disappeared ; governors were 
sent to administer in Roman fashion, and the work of 
organizing went uniformly on. Diplomacy ^ ^ ^ 
and intrigue also were constantly employed ^ticreS- 
beyond the borders ; treaties were formed 
with neighbouring monatchs to give an excuse for 
frequent meddling ; dynastic quarrels were fomented ; 
shelter was offered to princely refugees, and future 
rulers trained in Roman arts and letters. This po- 
licy was specially employed in dealing with the chief- 
tains of the German clans and with the kings of the 
far East, and possible enemies were thus changed into 
friends or weak dependents. The early Csesars prided 
themselves upon the success of their diplomatic arts, 
took credit for it in their speeches to the Senate, and 
stamped in this way a pacific character upon the 
policy of the Empire. For indeed, if we ^ 
except the terrible crash of civil war m the policy of the 
year 69, the peace of the Roman world 
was scarcely broken for a century. A few border 
forays on the Rhine had their source in the wanton folly 



?o8 


The Earlier Empire, 

of weak rulers who thought to win a little glory upon easy 
terms. The Dacian war upon the Danube was left, after 
a few campaigns, for Trajan’s energy to close; the national 
uprisings in Gaul were crushed with little effort ; and in 
their guerilla warfare with the African Tacfarinas the 
Roman generals were only pitted against a brigand chief, 
who had to be tracked and hunted like a wild beast to his 
lair. Only when opposed to the desperate energy of 
Jewish fanatics and the untamed tribes of Britahi were 
they called upon to cope with enemies who seriously 
tasked the resources of generalship and discipline. For 
the most likely rivals of the Emperors were the leaders 
of their troops. Of these the most adventurous were 
recalled often in their hour of triumph or warned to 
advance no further, and must have sighed, like Corbulo, 
* Happy were the generals of olden time 1 ’ for they were 
allowed to go on and conquer. 

Pacific as was the imperial policy of Augustus in his 
later years, he had for the first time set up a standing 
The stand- army, and the forms in which he organized it 
ing army of were long left undisturbed. On the Rhine 
an/Sbe^Sa- eight legions were constantly on guard, di- 
ieg?on^Md vided between the higher and the lower pro- 
fleets. vinces, and the defence of the northern frontier 

was further maintained by six more, who were stationed 
in Pannonia, Dalmatia, and Maesia. Four held the lines 
of the Euphrates, two were needed for the care of Egypt, 
the granary of Rome, while an equal number held tl^e 
rest of Africa. Three more were kept in Spain, some of 
whose wilder tribes had been but lately brought into sub- 
jection. These legions, twenty-five in all, were attended 
in the field by auxiliary forces of about equal numbers, 
bearing the names and national character of the races 
that sent their separate contingents to the field. 

The chief stations for the fleets were at Misenum and 
Ravenna, on either coast of Italy, besides which the bar- 



209 


The Frontiers and the Army. 

hour of the Colonia Forojuliensis (Fr^jus) was chosen by 
Augustus to receive some of the ships that fought at 
Actium. A few thousand men, nine cohorts of the 
praetorian guards, and three of the urban watch sufficed 
for the police of Rome ; and elsewhere through the whole 
interior of the vast dominion no garrisons were needed, 
and the tramp of armed men was seldom heard upon the 
great highways that ran through the old countries of the 
Empire. 

The legions themselves were seldom moved from 
the frontiers to which they were attached, but remained 
in permanent encampments, engaged in an unvarying 
round of military drill. Near the cantonments settled 
the traders, camp followers, and various classes nearly 
connected with the soldiers, and many an important 
town of later days derived its origin, and sometimes even 
its name, from the camp in the close neighbourhood 
of which it grew. The legions were recruited legions 
from the border provinces, often from the 
very countries where their camp was fixed, distant 
In time many ties connected the soldiers Provinces 
with the peoples amongst whom they lived. Most of them 
had never even seen Rome or the Emperor whom they 
served. How strong an influence was exerted by the 
Empire on the imaginations of the peoples, and how 
substantial were believed to be the benefits of union, is 
found in the fact that so few efforts were seriously made 
to assert a national independence and call the native 
soldiery to rally round it. For the temper of the legions 
was in the main loyal and steadfast. The 
statues and effigies of the ruling monarch ^dsteadfast, 
were commonly in the camp the objects of 
unquestioning reverence, and there at least to their 
Caesar- worship was something of a reality *^*”^*’ 
and not a name. The military traditions of each legion 

jL H. p 



210 


The Earlier Empire. 

acquired of themselves an attractive force over the fancy 
of the soldiers, and provident clubs and guilds for social 
union grew up gradually among them, as we learn from 
inscriptions found in Northern Africa after the lapse of 
ages. They were also encouraged to deposit their savings 
in a sort of bank set up in their quarters, the funds of 
which were large enough to provide the needful means 
for the rising of Antonius against Domitian. 

The camps were also the best training-schools for 
the old-fashioned virtues of faithfulness, straightfor- 
The moiai wardncss, and hardihood, and in them were 
fStereJin fouud the bcst types of the old Roman 

the camps by character, which, as moralists complained, 
were to be found elsewhere no more. If the funds of 
a country town had fallen into disorder, or uprightness 
was needed for a special post, the curator chosen by the 
government was often an old soldier, who had long been 
tried and trusted; and early Christian history throws, 
incidentally, a favourable light upon the moral qualities of 
the Roman officer. Tiiose qualities were mainly formed 
by thoroughness of work and discipline. 

Besides the mere routine of drill, and all the exer- 
cises of a soldier’s trade, the earthworks and intrench- 
ments of the camp, there was no lack of 
constant labour. Their armies raised the 
great highways through miles of swamp and forest, 
spanned the streams with bridges, built dykes and 
aqueducts and baths, and taught the border races as 
much of the arts of peace as of the methods and ap- 
pliances of war. To save them from the monotony of 
garrison life and the temptations of unlettered leisure 
they had for the twenty years which was their mini- 
mum of service a healthy variety of useful work to call 
out their energy and skill. 

The second requisite of discipline varied more with 



The Frontiers and the Army, 21 1 

the temper of the general in command. It was a 
singular feature of the first Caesar’s habits of command 
that he was careless of common rules, and and disci- 
allowed much license to his troops, saying 
that * his men, perfumed as they were, could fight.’ But 
his successors could not rely on the prestige of genius 
to inspire morale^ nor quell their mutinous soldiers with 
a word, and they drew the bands of discipline more 
tightly. The greatest generals were commonly the 
strictest, and themselves set, like Corbulo and Agricola, 
a marked example to their men. The worst, like Vitel- 
lius in his few weeks of command upon the Rhine, were 
lax and careless, and rapidly demoralized their armies. 

Next to the generals the most important influence on 
the temper of the soldiers was that of the centurions, for 
they might be harsh and overbearing and sorely try the 
patience of the men below them. They might be venal and 
exacting, and allow some to buy discharge from the com- 
mon duties of the camp, while unfairly burdening others. 
They might be quite incapable and owe their places to 
favour rather than to actual merit. 

Twice in the course of the period before us we have 
the spectacle of a complete breakdown of military dis- 
cipline, and it is instructive to compare the Two exam- 
facts of each. The first followed close on ^J-eakd^vn 
the succession of Tiberius. Both on the of discipline. 
Rhine and in Pannonia the soldiers were in open mutiny, 
incited seemingly by the men who had most lately 
joined the standards, recruited from the city popu- 
lace after the fatal loss of Varus. The complaints put 
into their mouths are those of men who chafed at the 
stern drill of camp after the pleasures of the capital, who 
found the strictness of the centurions hard to bear, and 
looked forward with despair to twenty years of service, 
remembering the higher pay of the favoured praetorians 



212 


The Earlier Empire, 


and their shorter term of years. The second was in the 
troublous year of 69, when so many rivals struggled for 
the post of honour. The armies had to assert theii 
liberty of choice by naming each their Emperor, and 
the sources of discipline were thereby disturbed, while 
the drill and work of stationary quarters were suddenly 
exchanged for the license and the plunder of campaigns. 
They constantly broke out in mutiny against their 
leaders, and complained that the centurions were harsh 
or cruel ; and twice when they had made an Emperor 
they would not be denied the privilege of choosing all 
their officers at their caprice. 

But these were the rare exceptions of exciting 
times, and the legions commonly were loyal, and the 
Emperors careful of their welfare. They rarely received, 
, indeed, the donative which the guards of the 

ITiepayand . , , , , , . .. 

pensions of Capital could almost extort at the accession of 

the soldiers ^ ruler; but besides the pay, which was in itself 
a great burden on the imperial revenue, a special fund was 
formed in a sort of military chest to furnish pensions for 
the veterans Avho were discharged, and new sources of 
income were devised to meet the need in the form of a 
succession duty of five per cent, and of certain tolls levied 
in the markets. After the civil wars it had been common 
to plant military colonies, and to find land for all the 
veterans. But it was found in time that they were sorry 
settlers and little suited to fieldwork, and the land passed 
and missio Speedily out of their hands. The system of 
honesta. pensions was, therefore, adopted in its stead. 
One further privilege we hear of, though only from the 
evidence of inscriptions graven on metal tablets found 
in various lands. They are the certified copies of the 
official document in which an honourable discharge was 
granted to deserving soldiers after the full term of service. 
It carried with it the full franchise to the provincials who 



213 


Moral Standard of the Age. 

served as auxiliaries beside the legions, and it gave a 
Roman status to the worthy, as the Emperor’s favour or a 
master’s whim did to large numbers of a different class. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE MORAL STANDARD OF THE AGE. 

Tf we think only of the most familiar of the social fea- 
tures of this period we may well form a low estimate of 
its moral worth, and say with Horace that the The natural 
men of his day were worse than the generation (fJiieveTha^ 
that had gone before, and were to be followed there was a 
by an age still viler. The fearful spectacles Sine in the 
of vice seated in high places with the Caesars ; 
the sombre pages in which Tacitus portrays Empire, 
the selfish, cowardly, and luxurious nobles, vicing with each 
other in their praises of the rulers who were slaughtering 
them meantime as sheep; the passionate invectives of 
Juvenal, which imply that modesty and tnith and honour 
had winged their flight to other worlds, and left the 
Roman in disgust to men without dignity and women 
without shame; the epigrams of Martial, which reveal 
the gross profligacy of the social circles which they were 
written to amuse; the novels of Petronius and Apuleius, 
reflecting the lewdness and the baseness of every class 
in turn ; and, weightiest witness of them all, the terrible 
indictment of the heathen world in the letters of St. Paul 
— these and other literary evidences are often thought 
enough to prove a moral decline in the early ages of 
the Empire. They may be also thought to show the 
demoralizing influence of despotism on men who in early 
days would have spent their lives in the public service, 



214 'The Earlier Empire, 

but who, losing their self-respect when freedom failed, 
turned to material pleasures to fill the void which politics 
had left. But before we accept such sweeping charges there 
are some pleas that maybe urged, and should be weighed, 
in favour of a somewhat different conclusion. Satire can 
But (i} never be accepted as a fair portraiture of 
social manners. It dwells only on the bad 
deuce. side of life, and ignores the brighter and the 

nobler scenes. It may be, though it rarely is, accurate 
and exact in what it says, but good and evil are so blended 
in all our motives, thoughts, and actions that the pen 
which draws only the evil out to view must needs distort 
and falsify all the complexities of our human life. Or if it 
tries, as it sometimes does, to paint the fairer scenes as a 
contrast to the darker, it isolates and overcolours, and so 
destroys the naturalness of both alike, as when the Roman 
writers found a foil for the vices of the city in the healthy 
simplicity of country life, of ancient manners or of bar- 
barous peoples. But satire may be taken to show a more 
searching spirit of enquiry, a keener sense of the follies 
and vices of the age, a social unrest and discontent which 
point to a higher moral standard and may be the prelude 
2. Juvenal to reform. Juvenal himself, from whom our 
vc^erMntto pop^lar estimate is mostly taken, was too 
be fair. vehement to be accurate and fair. Soured, 
seemingly, by neglect and disappointment, struggling 
with poverty, though conscious of high talents, he 
fiercely declaims against the world that could not re- 
cognize his merits, and he is not very careful of justice 
or consistency. Each public scandal of the times, the 
profligate woman, the lewd paramour, the insolent up- 
start, the wealthy rogue, the pampered favourite of 
fortune, become at once the types of classes, and 
are so generalized as to cover almost all the society ol 
Rome 



Moral Standard of the Age, 215 

Nor must it be forgotten that most of the literary 
evidences before us— satirists, historians, and 3. Litera- 
moralists alike— reflect the life of a great J^thR^an 
city, and tell us little of the average morality life- 
of the Roman world. It was in that city that the Caesars 
paraded visibly the foul examples of their insolent license, 
and the temper of the court gave the tone to the social 
fashions of the capital. It was there that degrada- 
tion entered into the soul of the highborn, and drove 
them to forget the cares and shame of public life in the 
refinements of mere self-indulgence. It was there that 
the great extremes of poverty and wealth lived side by 
side with the least sense of mutual duty and mutual 
respect. The great fortunes of the world came to the 
centre of fashion to be spent, while the proletariat lived 
upon its public pittance or scrambled for their patrons' 
dole. It was there that the old moral safeguards of local 
religion, public sentiment, and national feeling had been 
most completely broken down in a motley aggregate of 
people to which every race had sent its quota. It was 
there that slavery reacted with most fatal force upon the 
temper of the master, and through the multitude of freed- 
men stamped upon the city populace the characteristic 
vices of the slave. 

In such a capital there was no lack of material for 
satire, and earnest minds were justified, perhaps, in think- 
ing that the inhabitants of Rome had never been so idle, 
dissolute, and corrupt. Politics had dwindled to the scan- 
dals of court gossip, and the sterner game of war, with 
its hardy virtues and its self-denial, had passed into 
the hands of provincials far away. The craving for fierce 
excitement might be sated by the sport with the wild 
beasts, and the poor gladiators might fight and bleed to 
show the Romans how their forefathers had died. But 
there was much in the life of the great city that was 



2I6 


The Earlier Empire. 

exceptionally morbid, and we surely must be careful 
before we generalize what we read about it. 

The satirists of the Empire dwell with especial fores 
upon the increase of luxury in their time, and the spread 
of peace and of material ease caused without doubt a 
larger outlay on all sides. But the luxuries of one age 
seem the necessaries of the next. Civilized 
progress consists largely in changing and 
multiplying our common wants, the moral 
fully estimate of which varies with the standard of 

weighed. times. If the animal nature is not pam- 

pered at the expense of the moral character and high 
thought, if the few do not unproductively consume the 
produce of the work of thousands, the moralist need 
not quarrel with the enlargement of our human needs, 
which of itself becomes a spur to quickened industry. 
But some of the complaints in question deal with matters 
of passing sentiment and prejudice, with entirely con- 
ventional habits of dress and food and furniture, and 
their strictures on these points sound meaningless to 
modern ears. Even the things we look upon as the real 
gains of progress, such as the interchange of natural pro- 
ducts, the suiting to fresh soils and climates the growth 
of widely different lands, they stigmatized as the vanity 
of an ins me ambition that would overleap the bounds ot 
nature. Much of what seemed to them luxurious excess 
would be now taken as a matter of course, and was only 
thought extravagant because of the simpler habits of a 
Southern race, which had a lower standard for its wants. 
For if we go into details there is little that exceeds or 
even rivals the expenditure of later times, unless, perhaps, 
we may except the prices given for works of fine art, or 
the passion for building, which, for a time, seized the 
Roman nobles, or eccentricities of morbid fancy as rare 
as they were portentous. Wealth was confined^ indeed^ 


4. Cora- 

f >laints about 
uxury need 

t-n rar#.. 



Moral Standard of the Age. 217 

within few hands ; but in the towns at least they spent 
largely for what they thought the common good, and 
baths and aqueducts, roads and temples were works to 
benefit the million. Culpable luxury, indeed, there was 
— selfish extravagance and idle waste- but every age 
has seen the same in all the great cities of the world. 
It is fair also to remember that the first century of the 
Empire had not passed away before a change is noticed 
for the better. We read in Tacitus that Vespasian’s 
frugal habits had a lasting influence on the tone ot 
Roman fashion. From his days he dates the spread of 
homelier ways, in which men followed the example of the 
court, while the provincials, from whom the Senate was 
largely recruited at the time, brought to the capital the 
inexpensive foi*ms of simpler life. With these reserves 
we may accept the statements of the ancient writers 
for some at least of the social features of Imperial 
Rome, for the vices and the follies which they paint in 
such dark colours. 

But there is another side to be considered before a 
conclusion can be drawn. 

Philosophy had now become, for the first time in Ro- 
man history, a real power in common life, and where 
Christian influences were unknown it was the 3- Phiioso- 
chief moral teacher of mankind. With Cicero 
it had given an uncertain sound, as if to excuse power, 
his own irresolute temper; it had furnished questions of 
interest for curious scholars, but no guiding star for ear- 
nest seekers. But in the mouths of the great teachers 
of the Stoic system it was very resolute and stern. It 
pointed to a higher standard than the will of any living 
Caesar ; it taught men to live with self-respect and to 
face death with calm composure. It had dropped its 
airs of paradox and the subtleties of nice disputes to 
become intensely practical and moral, to lead men in 



2l8 


The Earlier Empire, 

the path of duty, and give them light in hours of dark- 
The case of iiess. It is easy, indeed, to point to the in- 
Seneca. Consistencies of a career like that of Seneca, 

to the moralist defending the worst act of his royal pupil, 
to the rich man writing specious phrases in favour of 
homely poverty, to the ascetic training of the hard pallet 
amid all the splendours of the palace, like the hair 
shirt of the middle ages covered by the prelate's robe. 
But Seneca found strength and solace in the lessons 
of philosophy ; the greatness of his life begins when 
honours and court favour fail him, and he retires to 
meditate on the real goods of life and the great 
principles of duty. There, with a little company of 
chosen spirits, he can consult the books of the undying 
dead, and tranquilly reason on the experience of the 
past and the problems of man's destiny. Not content 
with the mere selfish object of saving his own soul, he 
gives his ear and earnest thoughts to the needs of other 
seekers round him, writes as the director of their con^ 
science while they live still in the busy world, and tells 
them how to keep a brave and quiet heart among the 
trials of those evil days. The pages in which Tacitus 
describes the last hours of Seneca and many another 
deathbed scene ; the marked way in which he comments 
on the worldly levity of Petronius, who had no sage near 
him when he died ; the jealous suspicions of the Emperors, 
the writings of the moralists themselves, show that phi- 
losophy was a real power in the state, and not confined 
to a few thinkers. Nor was it at Rome, as in the old 
days of Greece, a Babel of discordant voices distracting 
serious enquirers by their disputes and contradictions. 
The Stoic system ruled at Rome for a time almost with- 
out a rival. The themes on which it reasoned were chiefly 
moral ; and hard and cold as we may think its teaching, 
it roused enthusiasm in those who heard it, and spread 



Moral Standard of the Age. 219 

widely through the world. It had its spiritual advisers 
for the closets of the great, its public lecturers for the 
middle classes of the towns, its ardent missionaries 
who spread the creed among the masses, and preached 
in season and out of season too. Its popularity was 
a real sign of moral progress, for all its influence 
was exerted to counteract the real evils of the times. 
It placed its ideals of the wise and good far above 
the example of the Caesars, its thoughts of a ruling 
Providence above the deified despots of an official wor- 
ship. It met the gross materialism of a luxurious age 
by its lessons of hardihood and self-restraint. It made 
light of the accidents of nationality and rank, insisting 
chiefly on the rights of conscience and the dignity of 
manhood, and left us works that are of interest still in a 
literature in which the two most familiar names are one 
of an Emperor, the other of a slave. To correspond to 
influences such as these we may trace some changes 
in the tone of public thought. For foul and base as was 
so much in that old heathen world, which seemed to 
Christian eyes so hopelessly corrupt, yet were there 
elements of progress, and earnest cries for clearer light, 
and a feeling after better things, for God had not left 
Himself without a witness in the midst of sensuality and 
sin. 

In regard to slavery men speak and act with far more 
of real humanity. We need not insist, indeed, upon the 
passionate terms in which Juvenal brands ^ 
the brutality of selfish masters, and pleads change of 
for the human rights of the poor sufferers, {hought^on 
nor on the language in which the kindly- the subject of 
hearted Pliny speaks of the members of his * 
household. But even at the beginning of the Empire it 
became a growing custom to give freedom soon to the 
domestic slaves, and the fashion spread so fast as to re- 



220 


The Earlier Empire, 


quire to be checked and ruled by law. The wording oi 
the epitaphs, the common literary tone, shows the rapid 
growA of kindlier feeling; and the enforcement of the 
stem old law by which the slaves of a murdered master 
were all condemned to death caused a cry of horror 
through the city, and the fear of a rescue from the crowd, 
and other Other Suffering causes found a voice also in 
evils. Roman circles. Protests were heard against 

the cruel sports of the arena and the demoralizing sight 
of needless bloodshed; the wrongs of the provincials 
were pleaded, not as a matter of prudence or of party 
politics, as by the orators of the Republic, but in the 
interests of humanity and order. 

The estimate of women^s character was changing 
also. They had always, indeed, been treated with high 
7 Tjjg regard, and had managed their households 
change in with dignity and self-respect. They had been 

the estimate , , , . , . . 

of women's clothed With public functions as priestesses 
character. Vestal Virgins, and had already gained 

by forms of law a kind of independent status. But the 
received type was somewhat severe and stern, with little 
of the grace and accomplishment of finer culture. ‘ To 
stay at home to spin the wool ' was their merit in their 
husbands’ eyes ; and in the later years of the Republic 
moralists spoke with grave alarm of the gayer moods 
and freer tone imported with the latest fashions, and 
feared to see their wives copy the questionable society 
of Greece. Without doubt there were many who, like the 
Sempronia and the Claudia of the days of Cicero, aimed 
more at attractiveness than virtue, and too wantonly 
paraded their freedom from old-fashioned notions ; there 
were many in the early Empire who flung themselves 
without reserve into every kind of dissipation, and linked 
their names to infamy in the revels of the court of Nero. 
But it was found in time that grace and art need be no 



221 


Moral Standard of the Age. 

bar to chaste decorum, that women could be learned 
without being pedants, and study philosophy without 
affectation. At no time do we read of nobler women 
than in the days when satire handled them so coarsely ; 
and, sad as are the histories of Tacitus, he has yet bright 
and stirring pages where he embalms the memory of 
a band of heroines who could sympathize with their 
husbands’ highest thoughts, and sometimes even show 
them how to die. In earlier days there had been Roman 
matrons as dignified and chaste and brave, but the fuller 
blossoming of womanhood and a more many-sided 
grace were the growth of an age which we regard, at 
the first, as hopelessly corrupt and vile. 

In fine, there is one witness we may cross-examine 
if we will gauge the moral temper of the times. The 
younger Pliny lived partly in the period be- g evi- 
fore us and partly also in the next. He was dence of a 
no professional moralist, and had no thesis to 
maintain, but his familiar letters reflect the 
spirit of the circles, in which he moved, of the highest 
society in Rome. He owns, indeed, that he takes a kindly 
view of things about him, that he sees the merits rather 
than the foibles of his friends ; and the habit of drawing- 
room recitals tended perhaps, with certain classes, to 
form a tone of mutual admiration. Yet withal it is a 
most impressive contrast to the pictures of the satirist, 
and points to a real progress in the temper of the age. 
The society that could furnish so many worthy types of 
character, so many friends to sympathize with the genial 
refinement, the courtesy and tenderness expressed in 
Pliny’s letters, had many an element of nobleness and 
strength to retard the orocess of decay. 



222 


The Earlier Empire, 


CHAPTER XIX. 

THE REVIVAL OF RELIGIOUS SENTIMENT. 

Towards the end of the Republic religious sentiment 
seemed to have almost lost its hold on the world ot 
fashion and of letters. The legends borrowed 
«cllSd"o be long ago with the arts and poetry of Greece 
Son the never flourished upon Roman soil. The 

Romar^ of product of a pcoplc^s childlike thought, they 
education. ^ould have littlc charm for colder minds in 
a later stage of national growth, and Greek philosophy 
helped to destroy what Greek fancy had created. 

Cicero and others of his time prized the honours of 
the priesthood, observed the forms of national worship, 
thought them useful for the masses, but cared little for 
its hopes or fears, and in familiar correspondence they 
The policy of scldom spcak of it at all. It was part of the 
Augustus to policy of Augustus to do honour to the national 
the ofd reU- religion, and to strengthen his own imperial 
gion. dynasty by a sort of closer union between 

Church and State. He had shown little piety in earlier 
days, and was said even to have taken part in a blas- 
phemous parody of an Olympian banquet. But now at 
his bidding the temples rose on all sides from their 
ruins, the ancient rites were celebrated with a magnifi- 
cence long disused, and he became himself the highest 
functionary of the old religion. His successors were care- 
ful to follow in his steps, and the members of the Flavian 
Reasons why family, though they sought seemingly a sort 
leften^during consccration from the priests and sooth- 
traces. sayers of the East, did not on that account 
neglect the worship of their fathers. Did religion really 



Revival of Religious Sentiment, 223 

giiP from this official sanction ? We cannot tell, but we 
do see enduring traces of reviving faith. 

1. It is true that we still hear caustic jibes at the 
old myths, and Juvenal tells us that none but children 
believed the legends of the poets ; but it was 
possible to give them up without much loss gends^mfght 
of reverence and faith. They had never had 

much hold upon the Latin mind, whose earlier of religious 
creed was one of simple naturalism, or dealt 
with the abstractions of pure thought rather than with 
forms of personifying fancy. The venerable hymns and 
rituals still appealed to the devotion of the people and 
did not shock the inquiring reason. Polytheism is 
naturally so loose and undogmatic in its creeds that 
all were free to choose the elements that satisfied their 
thought or inclination, and none were driven into un- 
belief by the sweeping claims and threats of an intolerant 
priesthood. 

2. There is this also to be noted, that the current 
philosophy of the early Empire was not revolutionary 
and flippant, as it often had been in the ^ 
schools of Greece. It did not encourage a ofphilo- 
balance and suspense of judgment, like the Srae^tTnd 
academic thought of Cicero, but was in the 

mouths of Stoic doctors grave and earnest and devout, 
leading men to ponder on the great problems of life and 
to justify the ways of Providence. It saw elements of 
truth in all religious forms and language, and could find 
even in poetic fancies many a valuable symbol of the 
unseen world of faith and duty. It was soon to be more 
tolerant and comprehensive still, to hannonize all creeds 
and systems, with one great exception, and by the help 
of mystic reveries and allegory to breathe a new spirit 
into the worn-out forms of paganism and to do battle 
only with the Christian faith. 



224 Earlier Empire. 

3. Meantime the peaceful union of the nations 
brought with it an interchange and fusion of devotional 
3. The in- rites, and the gates of Rome could not be 
long closcd against the strange deities that 
and rites. claimed the rights of citizenship and a niche 
in the imperial Pantheon. The Senate and magistrates 
of the Republic had more than once tried in vain to close 
the portals, and now the attempt was wholly given up, as 
new fashions in religion flocked from every land to find a 
home within the city. Sometimes it seemed little more 
than a mere change of name, when attributes and cere- 
monies were like those of home-growth ; but it was far 
otherwise with the Eastern Mithras and Astarte, the 
Egyptian Isis and Osiris, the strange rites of the Cory- 
bants, and the mystic orgies of Cotytto. These helped 
to naturalize new thoughts and feelings on Italian soil,-- 
religious moods that passed from mysterious gloom to 
enthusiastic fervour, the idea of penitence and ascetic 
self-devotion as the condition of a higher life and of 
closer union with the Divine. They answered seemingly 
to some deep-seated cravings that had not been satisfied 
elsewhere ; they spread rapidly and became quite a 
power in social life without disturbing the existing faiths, 
for the old and new lived peacefully together side by 
side, as saints newly canonized may take their place 
without prejudice to other venerable names. Under 
such influences the belief in a world unseen grows in 
intensity and earnestness; dreams and omens of all 
kinds have power to stir the credulous fancy; sooth- 
sayers, astrologers, and diviners reap their golden har- 
vests and meet a widespread want. 

4. The literary tone, which a century before had 
4. The been worldly, sceptical, and careless, be- 
t^^eruy comcs earnest and oftentimes devout; and 
lone. familiar letters show that religion was with 

most a matter of serious concern and a real motive-force 



Revival of Religious Sentiment, 225 

in action. Among the historians Tacitus shows some recog- 
nition of the Divine Power that guides the world, and the 
will that sends its signs to warn us. Suetonius and Dion 
Cassius indicate the progressive fulness of belief, and 
weary us often with their long detail of constantly re- 
curring portents. In other writers, there is much talk 
of a spirit-world of ghostly visitors who go and come in 
startling guise and haunt the homes of murdered men. 
They believe seemingly in the power of magic to con- 
strain the forces of the unseen world, and make them 
use a fatal influence on the souls and bodies of the 
living. Numberless gradations are imagined between 
the infinite God and finite man, till all the universe is 
peopled with an endless hierarchy of supernatural agents. 

5. We have another source of evidence of the extent 
of popular belief in the numerous inscriptions which en- 
shrine many of the most cherished feelings of 
every social class and race. They point to the mentS'^’ 
countless thankofferings that grateful piety evidence, 
had yet to give. Temples, altars, votive tablets were set 
up for centuries by pagan hands ,* statues and pictures of 
the gods were still the objects of religious veneration; 
the worship of domestic lares or the ancestral spirits of 
the house leaves its trace on every monumental stone. 
The epitaphs attest in every variety of tone the hopes 
and fears of a life beyond the grave, and the yearn- 
ing sympathy of those still left behind. Even the old 
fancies of the poets, the legendary forms of Charon, 
Cerberus, and Pluto, linger still in popular memory and 
leave their trace in the language of the tombs. Many 
of the popular beliefs were strong enough to resist for 
ages the spread of Christian thought. Even when they 
seemed to yield they only changed their language and 
their symbols, and noiselessly maintained their ground in 
the service of devotional art. 

A, H, Q 



226 


The Earlier Empire, 


For when the final struggle came the religions of 
paganism died hard. With the early Empire a strong 
Paganism reaction had set in, growing constantly in 

died hard. intensity from the greater spiritual depth of 

Eastern creeds and from the mystical and moralizing 
tone of philosophic thought. 



INDEX. 


A cta of the senate, 189 
Acte, 121 

Actium, battle of, 5 

/Bdiles, 14 

Africa, 202, 206, 208 

Agrestis, Julius, 137 

Agricola, Julius, 170, 211 

Agrippa, Herod, 143 

M. Vipsanius, 9, 22-25, 

^ Postumus, 30 

Agrippina, the wife of Gennanicus, 
53» 60 

• daughter of Gennanicus, 

68, 95 , TOO, 105, 123 
Alexandria, 5, 80, 143, 150, 199 ; 

ship’s crew of, 37 ; club at, 84 
Ancyranum monumentum, 38 
Anicetus, 104, 105 
Antioch, 53 
Antium, 108 
Antonia, 63, 72, 82 
Antonius, M., 2-5, 40, 146 

Primus, 136, 138, 139, X43 

— S., 169, 210 

Apollonia, x 

Apollonius of Tyana, i;o 
Apotheosis, 42 
Apuleius, 2x3 
Aquileia, 142 
Archon, title of, 182 
Aricia, X78 
Armenia,*! 19, 206 
Anninius, 51 
Arretium, 25 
Axriii, 1x3 
Asisticus, 136 
Asuius G^us, 68 


Astarte, 224 
Atellan farces, 194 
Atticus, Pomponius, 195 ; daughter 
of, 24 

Augusta, title of, 49 

Augustales, 198 

Augusttis, 1-42, 97 ; title of, ii 


B AI.^, 104, 108, 184 ; bridgt at, 
74 

Barea Soranus, X15 
Bassus Lucilius, 137 
Batavi, 144 

Bedriacum, 131, 135, 137 
Berenice, 143, 155, 156 
Roadicea, 119 
Britain, X 70, 207 
Britannicus, 96, 100, 104, X55 
Brixellum, 131 
Brutus, 3 8. 9, 179 
Burrhus, luo, xx2 


^y^iCINA ALIENUS, 130, 131; 
V *34 
Caenis, 151 

Caesar, Julius, x ; title of, ts 
Caesonia, 76, 8x 
Caledonia, 171 
Caligula, 29, 66, 71-^ 

Callistus, 88 
Camillus, 87 

Campagna of Rome, 203 
Camulodunum, 119 
Cwxdidati Caesaris, 



228 


Indejc. 


Capreae, 6i, 6$ 

Capi^docia, S07 
Cassius, C., 3 

; — Ch*rca, 80, 8<> 

Cassius Sevenis, 36 
Cato the elder^ 55 

M. Porcius, 179 

Ccnsoria potestas, 14 
Cereal is, 165 
Chacrea v. Cassius, 
Christians, no, 179 
Chrysippus, 113 
Cicero, 2, 198,217,220 
Cilicia, 207 
Cilnius Maecenas, 25 
Civilis, 144, 145 
Claudia, 220 
Claudius, 81-99 
Cleopatra, 5, 40 
Colonia Forojuliensis, 209 
Coloniae, 182 
Consularis potestas, 14 
Corbulo, 115, 208, 21 1 
Corduba, loi 

Corinth, 195 ; isthmus of, 74 
Comutus, X13 
Corybants, 234 
^tytto, 224 
Crassus, 43, 195 
Cremona, 137, 143 
Cremutius Cordut, 58 


ACIANS, T43, 168, 208 
Dalmatia, 130, ao8 
Danube, 206 
Decebalus, 167 
Decuriones, 186 
Delatores, 54 
Delos, 203 

Demarch, title of, 182 
Demetrius, 152 
Dictator, title of, xi 
Diogenes, 158 
Dion Cassius, 9, 29, 66, 106, 160, 
201, 224 

Chrysostom, 192 

Dorailian, X39, 144, 164-6 
Domitius Afer, 7s 

Ahenol^rbus, 95, 99 

Nero, 95 

Druids, X79 

Drusus, brother of Tiberius, 39, 43 

son of Tiberius, 60 

Dnuinviri juri dicundo, 185 


E gypt, 5, 182, 206 

Elbe, 206 
Epictetus, 191 
Epponina, 153 
Euphrates, 208 


TTABIUS, PICTOR, 194 
r Felix, 88, 147 
Flavian amphitheatre, 157 

Sabinus. 1^9 

Forojuliensis colonia, 209 


G ALBA, 120, 122-128 
Gallia comata, 177 
Germanicus, 46, 47, 51 
Germany, wars in, 167 
Gessius Floriis, 147 
Gracchi, policy of, 17 ; laws 
Caius Gracchus, 178, 180, 201 
Greece, depopulation of, 200 


H ELVIDIUS PRISCUS, 15a, 
153, 157 
iieivetia, 130 
Herculaneum, 162, 163 
Hiero, 182 
Horace, 27 


T CELUS, 125 
JL Illyria, 143 
Imperator, title of, la 
Isis, 40, 224 


T ERUSALEM, siege of, 147 
J Jews, 146, 147, 179 
Josephus, 67, 148, igi 
Julia, daughter of Augustus, 24, 30 
32 ; granddaughter, 3a, 36 
Julius Agrestis, 138 

Agricola. 170 

Cssar, 1 

Sabinus, 153 

Jus prjvatum, 177 ; honornm, 177 
exilii, 178 

Juvenal, 171, 183, 213, 2x4, 219 

T AB1ENUS,T.,35,73 
i-^ Laco, Cornelias, 64, 125 
« Lares, wor^p of, 41 



Index. 


229 


I-arin rifht, iSa 

Leges: Papia Poppaea, 35, 201. 
Majestatis. 36, 178; Julia immi- 
dpalis, 1P4 
Lepida, 99, iii 
Lepidus, 3 
Lesbos, 34 
Lin^ones, 144, 153 
Livia, 20, 28-30, 46, 61 
Livllla, 60 

Livy, 75, 83, 194, 201 
Loaista, 97, 104 
Lollia, 96 
Lollius, 33 
Loadinium, iig 
Lucan, 116-118, 179 
Lucilius Bassus, 137 
Lucrine Lake, 23, 88 
Lucullus, gardens of, 94 
Lugdunum, 98, 164 
Lusitania, 129 


M ^CENAS, 8, 9, 25-08, gar- 
dens of, 45 
Macro, 63, 66, 72 
Marcella, 24 
Marcellus, M., 24, 29 
Marcomanni, 168 
Martial, 171, 183, 189, 213 
Massilia, 178 
Mauretania, 207 
Messalina, 93, loi, 133 
Misenuxn, x6i, 208 
Mithras, 224 
Mithridatcs, 23 
Mcesia, 136, 206, 208 
Mucianus, 142, 143, 164 
Municipia, 182 
Museum at Naples, 163 
Muionius Rufus, 139 
Mutina, 3, 7 


N aples, 37, 184 

Narcissus, 87, 95, 96, 97, 100, 
141 

Nemausus, 45 
Nero, 99-122 
Nola, 37 
Noricuxn, 306 

Nomia, 7 


O CTAVIA, sister of Octaviuik 
4 : daughter of Claudius, 96, 
100, III 

Octavius, I ; Octaviaitus, 4-10 
O'iris, 40, 224 

0»ho, no, 126, 127, 138-133, 194 
Ovid, 27, 36 


pADUS, ,35 
1 Pa:tus Thrasca, 113 
Palestine, 144 
Pallas, 87, 95, 103 

Pannonia, 23, 45, 130, 136, 168, to6, 
208, 2 1 1 

Papia Poppuea Lex, 35, 202 
Parthia, king of, 71, 165 
Paul, St., 178, 213 
Paulina, 115 
Perusia, siege of, 4, 23 
Pctronius Arbiter, 118-119, lyi, 213. 
2i8 

Phaon, 121 
Philippi, battle of, 3 
Philo, 67, 191 
Philostratus, 170 
Phoebe, 32 
Pbo, Cn., 52 

Cn., 1 17, 119 

Frugi Idciiiianus, 126-128 

Frugi, 181 

Planasia, 30 
Plancina, 52 

, Pliny the elder, 25, 161, 194, 20/; 

I 20$ ; the younger, i6i, 219, 221 

I Plutarch, 191,203 
Pollux, bhrine of, 74 
Polybius, the freedmaii, 88, 94 

the historian, 200, 205 

Pompeii, 69, 119, 160, 162, 185 
Pompelus Alagnus, 7, 146 

— - Sextus, 4, 25 

I'oinponius Atticus, 195 
Pontifex Maximus, office of, 14 
Pontus, 23 

j Poor Law System at Rome, iSo 
Poppaea Sabina, 112, 114, 120, 128 
I Posides, 88 

Prxfectus, i6 ; urbi, 16 ; practorio, 
vigilum, annonec, 16 
Praetor, 14 

Primus, Antonius, 136, 138, 139, 143 
Prince, title of, 13 
Privy Council, 18 
I Proconsularis potestas, 14 
' ProcuratOTCS, 17 

g 2 



230 


Index. 


i’roscriptioni, 3 
Propertius, 27 
Ptolemy, 182 
Punic wars, 202 
Puteoli, 37 ; bridge at, 74 
Pythagoras, no 


Q U/ESTOR. 

Quatluor vln juri dicundo, 185 
QuiiK^uennalcs, 186 
l^uiatilius Varus, 33, 201, 211 


R avenna, 137. aoc 

Reale, 141 
Romi (Rheims), 182 
Rhodes, 43, 178, 195 
Rusticus, 170 


S ABINUS FLAVIUS, 139. Mi 
Scribonia, 30 
Sejanus, 59-64 
Sempronia, 220 
Semproniau laws, 178 
Senate under Augustus, 17 
Senatorial provinces, 19 
Seneca, 28, 75, 100, loi, 106, 218 ; 

satire of, 97 
Senecio^ 170 
Sequam, 153 
Servilia, 115 
Sextus Pompeius, 4, 25 
Silanus, 52 
Silius, 94 

Simon, sonofGioras, 149 
Soranus Barea, 115 
Spain, 183, 208 
Sporus, no, 120 
Stabise, 161 
Statius, 171, 184 
Stoics, 112, r66, 217,223 
Strabo, 67, 191, 199, aoo 
Suburra, 184 
Suetonius, 67, 68, 88, 225 
Sulla, 10, 51, 180 
Sulpicius Galba, 120, 122-128 
Syna, 119, 143, M7 


T acitus, 67, m, 127, 131, 142, 

146, 170, 172, 177, 190, 205, 
3x3, 217, 3 x 8 , 221 , 225 


Taefarinas, 208 
Terentia, 27 
Tertullian, 205 
Teutoburgiensis saltus, 34 
Tlieljaid of Statius, 171 
Thebes, 209 
Thespbe, 200 
Thrace, 207 

Thrasea, i^, 113,116, 152 
Thrasyllus, 45 

Tiberius, the emperor, 42-171 ; me- 
moirs of, 171 
Tiberius (^melius, 74 
Tibullus, 27 
Tibur, 178 

I’igellinus, no, 118, 120, 1:35 
Tigranes, 43 
Tiridates, 115 

Titus, 142, 143, 147, 155-163; baths 

Tomi, 36 
Treviri, 144 
Tribunicial potestas, 12 
Trimalchio, 118 
Tyana, 170 


U 


MBRIA, 


I4X 


T 7ALENS, F., 130, 134 
V Valerius Asiaticus, 94 
Valerius Maximus, 68 
Varus Quintilius, 33, 201, 211 
Vatinius, no 

Velleius Paterculus, 46, 68 
Vergil, 27, 29 
Verginius Rufus, 120, 124 
Verona, 136 

Vespasian, 107, 130, 136, Z4X-IS4, 
217 

Vesuvius, X19, 160 
Vibius Crispus, 165 
Vindex, 119, 122 
Vinius, 125 
Visurgis, 33 

Vitelhus, A., 127, 130, 132-140, 164. 
191, 211 

, L., 133 


Z 


ENODORUS, 157 


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